Twice this week God brought this verse on forgiveness to my attention. First, on Sunday, the pastor’s sermon was about the true meaning of forgiveness. Second, a few days later, my daughter’s Bible lesson also covered this verse. When I encounter the same verse from 2 sources in the same week, it tells me to pay attention.
What does the Bible say about forgiveness?
In this verse, Matthew 18:22, Jesus tells us to forgive until 70 times 7. But the real point here is not to keep a scorecard on how many times you have forgiven others but to always forgive just as God forgives us.
As we look further at this complete passage, we see the parable tells us forgiveness is more than saying you are forgiven and trying to forget, true forgiveness is canceling the debt owed us. The passage tells us of a king who had a servant that owed him a great deal of money – 10,000 talents. In modern money, 10,000 talents is equal to $3.28 billion dollars or 100,000 years of labor. It was a debt the servant could never repay.
Yet, the servant asks the king to forgive his debt and the king does forgive the debt. We would say the king cancelled the servant’s debt. Can you imagine cancelling a debt of $3.48 billion dollars? But the king in this parable does cancel the debt.
Then, does the servant whose debt was forgiven, forgive the debt of those who owed money to him? No, he’s very harsh to them. The king becomes furious when he hears how the servant acted and he throws him in jail until he repays the original debt in full. Which likely means he was put in jail for the rest of his life.
Consider, the Greatest King of all has canceled our debt to him, too. My daughter’s textbook asked us to calculate the debt we owe God. It suggested taking the number of times you sin per day times the days of the year times your age. For me, my debt was over 100,000 times I have sinned against God. This example really showed me the great debt I owe to God. Thankfully he has forgiven me (and he will forgive you, too).
This verse also shows us that there is no mistake, no offense others can do to us that through the power of Jesus we cannot forgive, too. Holding on to the hurts others have done against us is like a cancer. It will destroy you from the inside out.
There is joy for you in forgiving others and not counting their offenses, and there is joy and peace for them, too.