In my recent delvation into marriage advice, the subject of forgiveness has come up to some questions, so i thought i would do a spot on what forgiveness is. And to get the best information, we have to go to the one who knows how to forgive: Jesus.
Jesus, God's Son, paid the physical penalty for our sins, the sins of all man, when He died on the cross, paying in advance, for every sin YOU and I would ever commit. If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, and you have accepted His payment for your sin and agreed to live a life submitted to Him, then you are obligated to forgive those who sin against you.
For the sake of some limited entertainment value, i'm going to paraphrase the parable of the unforgiving servant, told in Matthew, chapter 18.
King Kindly and like a Gobillion Dollars
There once was a king, (we'll call him King Kindly 'cause names are helpful when telling a story), and he has a lot of servants, and apparently he's been lending money to his servants, because someone started looking at the books and realizing that the servants haven't paid up, so King Kindly starts calling in his debts.
Clearly King Kindly is a very generous king because the servant in question, we'll call him Bob, is called in to pay a debt of 10,000 talents.
Now, if you do a little looking to find out how many dollars is in a talent and what not, you find out that a day's wage in those days was a denarius. So if there are 6000 denarii in a talent, and Bob borrowed 10,000 talents, and he works at Wal-mart, and he's a manager, and all, it's still going to take Bob approximately 164,000 years to make that much money, leaving him nothing with which to support his family.
So 10,000 is equal to approximately a gobillion U.S. dollars. My math is a little rough, but the point is that the servant could not possible pay back the amount owed.
So King Kindly is going to throw Bob in prison and sell his wife, Sally, and his kids, Bobby, Billy, and Susie, and his house and his cows and his cat, Spot, and take the small pittance that he can get for them all, and let Bob work for nothing for the next 164,000 years, to "pay off" the debt, as if that were possible. But Bob is distraught and persisting, and he throws himself on the floor at the feet of the king, and he begs and cries and snots everywhere, and he promises to find a way to pay it back.
So the kind-hearted King Kindly has compassion on Bob, and knowing that Bob, in spite of all his best intentions, can never pay back a gobillion dollars, no matter how hard he tries, King Kindly forgives Bob his debt and releases him to go home to Sally and the kids.
Now you might assume that Bob did the same as old Mr. Scrooge, when he realized the error of his ways, and started being jolly and forgiving everyone his debts and throwing money to strangers in the street, but no, that is not what Bob does.
Bob leaves the castle, and instead of going home to rejoice with his wife and start a successful budget to prevent further such episodes of near family imprisonment, Bob goes looking for his buddy, George, who owes him something like 5 or 10 thousand dollars (or about 3 months wages). And Bob grabs George by the throat and starts choking him, demanding he pay up right now!
Well, George, (who is apparently not carrying $10k in his pocket, in hopes of running into Bob) is distraught and throws himself on the ground in at the feet of his buddy, Bob (does this sound familiar?) and begs and cries and snots everywhere, and he promises to find a way to pay back the money he owes, (which i might add, in George's case, is much more likely to actually come true). But Bob forgets the mercy shown him by King Kindly, and he has his buddy, George, thrown in prison until he can pay back the debt that is owed.
It doesn't take long before word gets back to King Kindly, about Bob's lack of kindness, and King Kindly is LIVID! He calls Bob into his chambers, and here's what he says, in Jesus' words this time:
"'Evil slave! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me! Should you not have shown mercy to your fellow slave, just as I showed it to you?'"And King Kindly throws Bob into prison, to be tortured by the prison guards, until he can repay his unrepayable debt.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~And so it is with us. We have been forgiven a great debt we could never repay. Should we not then show mercy, just has Jesus has shown it to us?
Any time my mind starts to get fuzzy about what it means to forgive, this parable puts me back on track. I remember that i have been forgiven. That there is no offense that i have a right to hold against anyone. That am forever indebted to the King, Jesus, to always forgive those who do wrong against me.
----------------stay tuned for more on what forgiveness looks like in our lives, when it isn't about a gobillion dollars or a king named Kindly