Let me be real for a moment…
Sometimes I just don’t feel like loving people, let alone forgiving them. Why should I? I haven’t done anything, and yet time and time again they are criticizing me and putting me down behind my back. Sometimes I would just love to strangle some people. I would really love to go tell them off and enjoy every minute of it….
This was how I woke up this morning after again hearing hurtful words said about me…
…but God spoke to me through His Word….
Matthew 18:21-35 (New Living Translation)
Parable of the Unforgiving Debtor
21 Then Peter came to him and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?”
22 “No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven!
23 “Therefore, the Kingdom of Heaven can be compared to a king who decided to bring his accounts up to date with servants who had borrowed money from him. 24 In the process, one of his debtors was brought in who owed him millions of dollars. 25 He couldn’t pay, so his master ordered that he be sold—along with his wife, his children, and everything he owned—to pay the debt.
26 “But the man fell down before his master and begged him, ‘Please, be patient with me, and I will pay it all.’ 27 Then his master was filled with pity for him, and he released him and forgave his debt.
28 “But when the man left the king, he went to a fellow servant who owed him a few thousand dollars. He grabbed him by the throat and demanded instant payment.
29 “His fellow servant fell down before him and begged for a little more time. ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it,’ he pleaded. 30 But his creditor wouldn’t wait. He had the man arrested and put in prison until the debt could be paid in full.
31 “When some of the other servants saw this, they were very upset. They went to the king and told him everything that had happened. 32 Then the king called in the man he had forgiven and said, ‘You evil servant! I forgave you that tremendous debt because you pleaded with me. 33 Shouldn’t you have mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you?’ 34 Then the angry king sent the man to prison to be tortured until he had paid his entire debt.
35 “That’s what my heavenly Father will do to you if you refuse to forgive your brothers and sisters from your heart.”
I have read this passage before, but this time the consequence was screaming at me. In the illustration, the unforgiving debtor was thrown in prison to be tortured. Then it says that our Father will do the same to us. Now, I have chosen to hold a grudge and not forgive many times in my life, and I have never ended up in Cobb County Jail in a torture chamber. But when I read this scripture this morning I realized that I might as well be. I sit in a figurative torture chamber stewing over what was said. I am angry and spiteful and I just feel ugly. I am locked up in unforgiveness and towards someone who doesn’t even know it.
The ironic thing is, when we sit in this prison of unforgiveness, being tortured by hurtful words, we are the only ones who hold the key to getting out. Jesus placed this figurative “get out of jail free” card in our hands when He forgave us and said, “It’s up to you when you want to set yourself free.”
So it is my choice to get out. It is also my choice if I want to sit in prison and stew over hurtful words.
It is my choice…
I have the key…
Will I use it?