“Bah! I don’t believe in love… ” Some people have been so hurt by a past relationship that they no longer dare to dream of a beautiful romance. Yet God can free us from our past and allow us to hope again.
The parable quoted in Matthew 18 teaches us a practical and essential lesson for living in peace. The story goes that a man owed the equivalent of $ 100,000 to a king. When the monarch asked him to pay his debt, the man begged for more time to pay it. Touched, the king did even more: he forgave the man’s debt. Then this man met one of his servants who owed him $10. He took him by the throat and put him in jail to pay his debt. The king learned of the story and brought the man back to scold him. “Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?” (Matthew 18:33 NKJV). And the man was tortured until he too paid for everything. “So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses” (Matthew 18:35 NKJV).
Why was the man so harsh on his servant? Maybe he was mean at heart, but maybe, it was because he didn’t understand the forgiveness he had just received. He had only asked the king for a delay, not to write off his debt. He might not have truly realized that he had been forgiven. If he believed he still owed this enormous sum of money, if he still felt guilty, it would be fitting that he should be looking for every small sum possible to repay the king. It was good that the king had pronounced a pardon, but the man still needed to accept it for his life to be transformed at this news.
Sometimes we have difficulty understanding God’s forgiveness, we still seek to repay our debt to Him. That causes us to become uncompromising with others. It is difficult to forgive our “ex” or anyone else who has hurt us if we have not ourselves received God’s forgiveness first. When we understand that the offense against us was terrible, but what we did to Christ was 10,000 times worse, it helps us let go of our neighbor’s debt.
Maybe the man who received forgiveness from the king refused it in his heart. Not wanting to appear weak in the eyes of others. So as not to lose face in front of the king, he kept the desire to repay his debt, which would explain why he tortured his servant to start accumulating enough money to repay his own. Sometimes our pride is so great that we fail to see our own offenses. We can easily see what others have done wrong to us, but we are too blinded by our pride to see the wrong things we have done.
The consequence of all this? The man found himself tortured in prison. And that’s exactly what we become inside. We are tortured by bad memories, our heart is trapped, and we are unable to open up to others. We live in an emotional slump, our words are sarcastic. We can no longer believe in happiness and freedom.
The same goes for all our relationships. If we have been betrayed in friendship and have not sincerely forgiven, we will not be able to make new friendships. We might even say that friendship doesn’t exist. We will always be on our guard, suspicious and intransigent. If we have not forgiven an employer who fired us wrongly, we will be toxic in all of our workplaces. If we have not forgiven the pastors of our old church, we will not be able to believe in the sincerity of the authorities of our new church.
God has plans for peace and happiness for us (Jeremiah 29:11). We should be so wrapped in the love of God that we do not suspect evil in our relationships (1 Corinthians 13:5). If we are scathing, it is because there is a lack of forgiveness received and given in our hearts. You have to be forgiven and forgive others to appreciate the gifts of life.