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Forgiving and Forgiven

Jun 14, 2003 09:08 AM EDT

Matthew 18:21-35 (NRSV)



Then Peter came and said to him, "Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times? Jesus said to him, "Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times.



"For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. When he began the reckoning, one who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him; and, as he could not pay, his lord ordered him to be sold, together with his wife and children and all his possessions, and payment to be made. So the slave fell on his knees before him, saying, 'Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.' And out of pity for him, the lord of that slave released him and forgave him the debt. But that same slave, as he went out, came upon one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred denarii; and seizing him by the throat, he said, 'Pay what you owe.' Then his fellow slave fell down and pleaded with him, 'Have patience with me, and I will pay you.' But he refused; then he went and threw him into prison until he would pay the debt. When his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their lord all that had taken place. Then his lord summoned him and said to him, 'You wicked slave! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. Should you not have had mercy on your fellow slave, as I had mercy on you?' And in anger his lord handed him over to be tortured until he would pay his entire debt. So my heavenly Father will also do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother or sister from your heart."




Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?" Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times."


-- Matthew 18:21-22 (NIV)




MY parents were divorced when I was two. As a child, I thought Daddy hated me because he was verbally, emotionally, and physically abusive to us kids. One day he hit me one time too many, and I decided I didn't want to go visit him anymore. For several years I didn't know or even care where he was.



In 1988, I became very ill and had to be hospitalized. No one from my church came to see me, but Daddy did. At the time I thought no one cared about me, and it touched my heart that he came on his own, without being asked. His visit showed me that he really did care about me. When I got out of the hospital, I began a correspondence with Daddy that lasted 10 years -- until the day he died.



As Christ forgave those who crucified him, I chose to forgive my father's mistreatment of me. The unforgiving servant in today's Bible passage brought suffering on himself because he did not forgive. It is wise and courageous to show mercy through forgiveness. Not forgiving keeps us and the one who has hurt us from experiencing the freedom that can be ours through Christ's grace.



Prayer: Lord God, forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. Amen.



THOUGHT FOR THE DAY:


Forgiving others frees us as well as the one we forgive.



PRAYER FOCUS:


Abused children and abusive parents

By Faye Goliwas, West Virginia