Reading: Matthew 18: 21-35
Verse 33: Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?
Forgiveness. It is something we all want when we have done wrong and want to restore the relationship. It is something that at times we can try and manipulate. It is something that can be hard to give sometimes.
Just after teaching about how to offer forgiveness in the midst of conflict in the church, Jesus is asked by Peter, “How many times…”? We do not know if Peter is asking when he can stop forgiving or if he is seeking a goal far past his current practices or if he is setting Jesus up to say we need to always forgive. In any event, the latter is the point Jesus makes.
Jesus goes on to share a story that illustrates why we must always offer forgiveness to others. A servant owes the king an amount worth millions of dollars. The king demands payment. The servant cannot repay the debt and begs for mercy. In compassion, the king forgives the debt. In our minds the servant should be very grateful and thankful. But as he leaves he runs into another servant who owes him a very small sum. He harshly demands payment and his fellow servant also begs for mercy. It is refused and the second servant ends up in jail.
I ask for mercy and forgiveness every day. Daily I seek forgiveness from my wife and frequently from others in my life. I often ask my King for forgiveness of my sins and my failures. It is a practice that I walk through quite often. Each time the Holy Spirit convicts me, I go asking one more time. One Sunday a month I am reminded of what led to the open door to forgiveness that we find through Jesus. Despite my vast experience with being forgiven over and over, sometimes I too struggle to give it.
The king in the story finds out the first servant withheld mercy and he calls him back in. The king says to him, “Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you”? Jesus asks me the same question.
Lord, give me the love and strength to be merciful and forgiving this day and every day. Amen.