TEXT: MATTHEW 18: 21-35
The goal of forgiveness is reconciliation. Jesus said we are to forgive who so ever sinned against us, even if he or she sins against us seven times a day and turns to ask for forgiveness seven times a day (Luke 17:4).
The specifîc number seven does not stipułte a limit, nor should we allow ourselves to be subjected to repeated abuse, or allow habitual sin by somebody taking advantage of our graces. The point Jesus was making is that we humble ourselves and offer forgiveness.
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When it goes extreme, yet as believers we must possess a forgiving spirit and be willing to forgive someone who genuinely repents, no matter how often they offend us.
POSSESS A FORGIVING ATTITUDE. (Matthew 18:21-22)
Jesus taught on a number of issues bordering on, the danger of causing people to sin and restoring those who have sinned.
Reacting to this, Peter wanted to know if there are any limits to forgiving others. “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? ”
Peter possibly thought forgiving seven times was quite generous. By Peter mentioning “seven”, Peter may have been considering the Old Testament passages which deal on punishment for the offense (Genesis 4:15; Leviticus 26:18).
Jesus responds was shocking, that “seven” is not insufficient but that one should forgive “seventy times seven”, in other words, unlimited forgiveness must characterize a true disciple.
So, a true disciple must possess a forgiving attitude. Just as God’s mercy is unlimited, so should our forgiveness of others be unlimited. Our forgiving others demonstrate God’s forgiveness toward us.
Jesus gave this parable to illustrate that forgiveness should be unlimited, about a certain king who called in a servant who owed him a substantial debt (Matt. 18:23). The servant owed the king “ten thousand talents”, an insurmountable debt equivalent to millions of dollars by today’s standards of exchange (verse 24). A talent would translate to somewhere between sixty and eighty pounds of gold.
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Some scholars believe that, for this servant to incur such an enormous amount, he may have been in charge of the kingdom’s treasury. Other opinions suggested that likely he was the tax chief responsible for collecting taxes for the king or a high government official in the position of a governor. Whatever the case, Jesus’ listeners understood the impossibility of paying back such a tremendous debt.
The king ordered the servant along with his family and possession to be sold ţo make restitution since he could not pay back his debt (verse 25). In the Old Testament, debt slavery was common. Many who owned people money became their slaves.
Under normal circumstances, the king deserved the right to demand justice because the servant could not pay his debt. Even what the king would realize from the sale of the servant, his family and possession would not be enough to pay back the debt. If the king chose the entire family served as slaves throughout their lives, yet wouldn’t be enough. But Justice must be done, in accordance with the laws of the day. This servant owed the king debt he could not pay, therefore, the king deserved the right of justice.
The servant’s promise to pay everything was unrealistic and irrational. He could never pay back, the only hope he had was to beg for mercy. The king knew it was an empty promise to gain mercy from him (verse 26).
The king decided to have compassion on him, and surprisingly he forgave the entire debt (verse 27).
Equally, our sins represent this enormous debt that would have been impossible for us to pay back.
No amount of money or good works could meet the price needed to forgive our sins. Justice demands that we deserved to be punished.
But God in his infinite mercy sent his son Jesus to be the propitiation for our sins, thereby setting us free from the debt we could not have paid.
CONSEQUENCES OF UNFORGIVENESS
The action that the king took to forgive the servant of his debt did not have any impact on him in dealing with others
Not long did he gain freedom from the king, that this servant met another servant that owed him money, he was not willing to show the same mercy the king had shown him ( verse 28-31).
A hundred pence; (about 10 dollars) owned the unmerciful servant was not significant enough to have thrown him into prison.
Jesus was setting up a stark contrast between the two servants. Practically speaking, the unmerciful servant’s debt was immeasurably greater.
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Those who witnessed what happened between the unmerciful and the other servant, reported to the king in details the brutal treatment the unmerciful servant did to the other servant.
Outraged by what he heard, the king’s attitude changed toward the Unmerciful Servant (verse 32-34). The unmerciful servant lost his freedom after the king commanded that he should be thrown into debtors prison, the very place he had sent someone for a much smaller debt, because of his own wicked unforgiveness.
In concluding this parable, Jesus emphasized the critical principle for all who seek to live in the kingdom of God. Forgiveness is a fundamental action God requires from his people. If we refuse to forgive others, God will not forgive us of our far greater debts.