Forgiveness – Jesus Style

We are enjoying a nice break in the winter weather. Although we are to have some periodic snow for most of the next week and then be in the 60’s! Baseball season is only a month away. By the time we finish we “March Madness” we will be ready for the “boys of summer.”

After a restful and laid back morning, I made it to the fitness center for a workout. I was surprised that my exercise bike workout went better than usual. Even though my running days are behind, I still correlate workouts to the “personal best” (PB) standard.  I couldn’t figure out if I’m getting stronger, or if the bike I was on was not working properly. So, I will claim the former and be positive about gaining strength and my overall improvement.

BIBLE VERSE FOR TODAY…. ‘You worthless slave!’… ‘I forgave you the whole amount you owed me, just because you asked me to.  You should have had mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you.’  The king was very angry, and he sent the servant to jail to be punished until he should pay back the whole amount.” And Jesus concluded, “That is how my Father in heaven will treat every one of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart.”       Matthew 18:32-25
Matthew West sings a song, entitled, “Forgiveness”…

It’s the hardest thing to give away

And the last thing on your mind today
It always goes to those that don’t deserve;

It’s the opposite of how you feel
When the pain they caused is just too real
It takes everything you have just to say the word…

Forgiveness
Forgiveness

It flies in the face of all your pride
It moves away the mad inside
It’s always anger’s own worst enemy
Even when the jury and the judge
Say you gotta right to hold a grudge
It’s the whisper in your ear saying ‘Set It Free’

Forgiveness, Forgiveness
Forgiveness, Forgiveness

Peter’s question to Jesus, “How often should I forgive a brother who sins against me?” reveals that forgiveness has been the struggle of the human condition for time on end. In answering Peter’s question Jesus tells a parable of a man who owed the King “a million dollars” (GNT) As the King was getting ready to sell the man into slavery, he came and begged for “patience.” The King had pity on the man and forgave him the debt and set him free.

When the forgiven man left the King he found a fellow servant who owed him, “a few dollars.” The fellow servant fell down and begged, “Be patient and I will repay you.” The forgiven servant had his fellow servant cast into the debtor’s prison. When the King heard of the injustice of the forgiven servant, he punished that servant. Not because of his debt, but because of his actions…his lack of mercy and failure to show forgiveness.

Some things that I observe in this story…

1 – God’s mercy goes beyond what we ask.  The servant who owed a million dollars came to the King and asked for “more time.” Are you joking? More time, with that amount? But the King did not set up a repayment plan; he had mercy and forgave the man the debt. How often we fail to understand the magnitude of the Lord’s mercy and forgiveness. Sometime we come to God with an attitude of, “forgive me and I’ll do better next time.” That usually doesn’t happen and the Lord forgives us…again. We believe we can earn forgiveness. We can’t its a gift.

2 – Our understanding of forgiveness, impacts our ability to forgive. When the forgiven servant finds his fellow servant who owed him so little in comparison to the get debt he had just been forgiven of, he fails to show the kind of mercy and compassion he had just experienced. Why is that? I recall someone once pointed out, that in his mind the King gave him what he requested….more time. So he is thinking I need a million dollars and I’m going to find it ten dollars at a time. Our ability to forgive is directly related to understanding the forgiveness we have received.

3 – Forgiveness is a matter of the heart –  Our minds call for justice. But forgiveness must come from the heart. The hurts that call for forgiveness can be deep…and it can take time. But a failure to forgive breeds resentment and bitterness and places us in a position that belongs alone to God. God is the righteous and ultimate judge. Matthew West’s song about forgiveness says it well…

It’ll clear the bitterness away
It can even set a prisoner free
There is no end to what it’s power can do
So, let it go and be amazed
By what you see through eyes of grace
The prisoner that it really frees is you

4 – Forgiveness requires God’s help – The kind of forgiveness we are called to is not possible in our own efforts. It requires the Lord’s help and a willingness to obey and take action. It is an act of faith. It is surrender. Remember, “Surrender is giving up what I want to hold on to.” We speak of the “golden rule” as “do unto others, as you would have them do to you.” While that applies to forgiveness, what Jesus is calling us to is, “do unto others, as I have done for you.” The closing words of Matthew’s West song contain this prayer. It is a good place to start and a reminder that we need the Lord’s help…

 So show me how to see what Your mercy sees
Help me now to give what You gave to me
Forgiveness, Forgiveness….