The Freedom of Forgiveness

Matthew 18:33
Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee?

With each passing day, our debt grows and multiplies. Somehow we keep messing up, and the cost is added to our account. Hour by hour, minute by minute, it seems, the figure gets bigger. Under the weight of this debt we may labor, but how fruitless it all seems. We work and toil, and yet we can make no dent. Instead, as we work all the harder, it only seems to increase faster.

Then our Master demands his payment. Our debt is quantified, and the vast total staggers us. Our debt is impossible to pay. A thousand lifetimes would never suffice for us to work it off. With no other option, we plead for mercy, for patience, for another chance to make it all up. Our Master knows the true cost of our debt, for He has kept track of every cent. He knows it is too much for us, and so in his kindness, he forgives our debt at great cost to himself.

But how often do we forget the huge debt we’ve been forgiven? We may seek revenge or payback on someone who wrongs us in some small way. We hold grudges for any slight, real or perceived. We may walk around harboring bitterness deep inside when we’ve been seriously hurt by other people. But as we add these things up, mark down each one ever so carefully, though it may seem like a lot, when compared to our forgiven debt, it amounts to almost nothing.

Will we be unmerciful when we’ve received such great mercy? Will we be impatient when our Lord is longsuffering toward us? Will we be vengeful after we’ve seen such grace? Will we be forgiving like our Master or petty and unforgiving like the servant in the parable? Some things are difficult to forgive. Sometimes the hurts people inflict on us dig in deep. But God knows all about forgiveness, and He can help us to heal and find the grace to forgive others as He has forgiven us.

There is a tremendous sense of freedom in being debt-free, owing nothing. But we place a new burden on ourselves when we refuse to forgive others. Our Master still keeps track of everything we do. He knows when we harbor an unforgiving spirit in our hearts and how much it hurts us and our relationship with Him and with others. But by taking the first step of forgiveness, the Lord can begin to work in a wonderful way.

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