Why did he have to lie?
Why would she cheat?
How could they say those things?
How could she do that to me?
Why did he leave?
How do we forgive someone who has made us feel inadequate, embarrassed, or worthless? When the debt they’ve racked up seems insurmountable, is forgiveness even an option?
Jesus’ story about the unmerciful servant teaches Christians how to respond when others harm us.
The servant owed a debt that was impossible to pay. In those days, a talent was worth about 20 years’ wages. Lenders at the time could force borrowers to work off debts or serve time in prison until their accounts were settled. Sometimes, the debtor’s family would be sold into slavery to help repay the debt. Apart from the king’s forgiveness, the debtor’s life was doomed.
The king in the parable represents Jesus, and the debtor represents us (Matthew 18:23-24). We owe an insurmountable debt to God because of our sin.
Whether our sins are few and respectable or malicious and many, the penalty for sin is death (Romans 6:23). But like the unmerciful servant, we, too, were forgiven. Our sins were washed away and our slates wiped clean. The only right response to receiving that kind of forgiveness and grace is to extend it to others.
Forgiving everyone everything is the key to living in the freedom Jesus died to give us.
When we forgive, we protect ourselves from bitterness. Like the debtor in Jesus’ story, bitterness will lead us to sin against God and others. By forgiving everyone of everything, we remove the hold that unforgiveness has in our lives and restore our relationship with God.
- Why is it so important that we forgive others?
- Are you holding onto bitterness for something someone did to you?
- What’s one step you need to take this week to forgive that person?