Jesus tells the story of a man who owed a great debt and, as a result, had become a slave to his master. “…a certain king…when he had begun to settle accounts, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. But as he was not able to pay, his master commanded that he be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and that payment be made” (Matt. 18:23-25, NKJV). What a humbling situation this man was in. He cried out for mercy. “Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt.” (Matt. 18:27, NKJV).
All Christians have at some point, likely experienced that moment of sheer elation; the full realization — the “whew” moment — when they felt the profound love, mercy and grace of God. It’s times like this when you simply sit down with a smile, perhaps shed tears and just breathe a sigh of relief. “I’m free! I’ve been forgiven.”
As it often happens, though, some lessons are quickly forgotten as Jesus’ story continues. Now a free man, this fellow confronted a fellow slave who owed him a paltry sum, compared to what he once owed and demanded payment in full. When the man could not pay, he was thrown into prison (Matt. 18:30, KNJV). What happened? After all, “It’s guys like this who don’t pay… Why shouldn’t I go after him? He deserves it!”
We need to keep in mind that we were all once slaves spiritually, indebted by our sins against a perfect, loving God who never intended anything but good toward us (John 3:16- 17). Having shown such mercy and compassion toward us, God now commands that we, in turn, show the same to others. Anyone. Everyone.
When the master heard what the servant had done, he summoned him. “‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?’ And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him” (Matt. 18:32-34, NKJV).
It’s been said that not forgiving someone is like trying to poison somebody by taking the poison yourself. How true that is. Has someone offended you? Has a family member worked tirelessly to pull your family apart by their irresponsible and destructive habits? Did your husband or wife walk out on you and leave a once peaceful household in ruins? Did someone once close to you steal something of value?
Whatever the wrongdoing may be, this story told by Jesus teaches us to let them off the hook. By doing so, you not only set them free but yourself as well. Holding them hostage, so to speak, hurts you far more than it does them. Jesus explained it this way: “… My Heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.” (Matt. 18:35, NKJV).
Start this year off right. Ask Jesus to forgive you from harboring any unforgiveness and experience the freedom He desires for you.
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Rob Granger is Senior Pastor of Faith Harbor Church, a non-denominational church that meets at 10 a.m. Sundays in the Escondido Columbus Hall, 515 W. Valley Parkway. His wife, Becky, serves as Co-Pastor. Videos of Pastor Rob’s sermons can be seen on YouTube by typing faith harbor church escondido ca in the YouTube search box. For information about Faith Harbor Church, visit fhcescondido.com/
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The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the Times-Advocate.