Parable: The Unmerciful Servant
21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” 22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.Matthew 18:21-19:1
- Today our class assignment was to ask ourselves how we approach the act of forgiveness in our life?
The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant is a powerful teaching moment because it provokes us to look deep within to examine how we approach the act of forgiveness. Few, if any can honestly say, “I have never done something hurtful or wrong to another that warrants forgiveness?”
Whether we need to forgive or ask for forgiveness is irrelevant. What is important is starting the process if possible. There are times when harmed parties are unwilling to accept an apology, but that is no reason not to extend one. However, the older we get it becomes evident that some brokenness will not be fixed during our lifetime. In these cases, all we can do is try!
The most challenging time in my life to be forgiving was in 1994 when a 19-year-old young woman struck and killed my 18-year-old son/pedestrian with her car. Following my son’s death, and funeral, I would get up several times throughout the week, pull out the police report and the medical report to read. I was so angry with the driver that I refused to allow my heart and mind to accept the fact that she did not intentionally run my son down.
And, more likely than not, the driver went through some emotional turbulence behind the accident as well, but I was too angry to care. However, after almost six months, “one morning, I woke up, and God spoke to me.” The Lord said, “it’s time to put Elton’s paperwork away for good.” I did. This was the day that God forced the spirit of forgiveness upon my heart.
At that point, it felt as though a mountain was slowly lifting off my heart. That day I forgave the driver and began to heal. Had God not reigned me in, I may have self-destructed by giving in to the spirit of anger and resentment.
I learned that giving anger, resentment, sorrow, and pain over to Christ is the only sure way to truly forgive. If you don’t want to be in a situation where you are not sure if you’ve truly forgiven or genuinely asked for forgiveness take it to the Lord in prayer.
Think about how you think about dealing with forgiveness on either end. I approach issues involving the need to forgive or be forgiven with a humble spirit. I don’t demand, expect or impose my expectations upon the party that may have been wrong, or who may have wronged me. Getting to the bottom of the situation is crucial.
Simply put, God needs me to be deflated so that He can fill my heart with love, plus bless my tongue with words that heal rather than scar.
In Matthew 18:21-19:1 Parable, Peter approaches Christ looking for guidance, direction, and approval before he moves to make amends or perhaps not. Like Peter, we need Christ to fix our hearts when they break in so many pieces that we cannot forgive or have the desire to ask for forgiveness. Anger, pride, and arrogance are three culprits that often stand between two people at odds with each other.
The fact that Jesus told Peter that he should forgive his brother who sinned against him “seventy times seven” aims to leave no room for confusion about how God expects us to approach the act of forgiveness in our lives?
Notably, the parable does not confuse “forgetting with forgiving.” Sadly, there are some atrocities, wrongs, and abuses that people take to the grave. Consequently, we don’t have the right to expect people to forget just because we apologize.
Remembering is a lesson, a lifelong teaching moment, one which serves as a reminder to never do it again. If remembering past mistakes was not important, the Bible would not exist as a divine reminder.