Peter the disciple came to Jesus with a very interesting question, and it was this, “Jesus, how many times do I need to forgive my brother and sister? Seven times?” Jesus looked at him and said, “Not seven times, but seventy times seven.” And then He goes into the most interesting parable, and I’ll just briefly share the parable verbally and then I want to read one scripture at the very end of that parable that’s really a shocker.
The parable is called the Unforgiving Servant, and it’s about the story of a man who owed a king the equivalent of a million dollars. The king calls him into his court to settle accounts, and the man begs for mercy. So the king has mercy on him and forgives his entire debt. This man promptly goes out from the presence of the king and sees someone who owes him the equivalent of a thousand dollars and demands payment. The man begs for mercy, but this man refuses to forgive that debt. The king finds out about it and calls this man back into his court and said, “I had mercy and forgave your debt. You should have done the same. And because you didn’t, you are now going to be thrown into debtor’s prison of torment until you pay the entire debt.” And then Jesus makes the most amazing statement. In verse 35 of Matthew 18, at the end of that parable, He said to the disciples, “That’s what my Heavenly Father will do to you if you refuse to forgive your brothers and sisters from the heart.”
It’s not that God is cruel, it’s just that He knows, as Donna DeSilva of Bethel Sozo has taught, He knows us and He knows who we are, and He knows the purpose and destiny He has for us. And He wants the best for us, and He wants us to be our best person. And He knows if we choose not to forgive, we will not be our best person, because unforgiveness defiles. So He will allow us to settle into that prison of unforgiveness that becomes a sort of torment to us until we become so miserable that we recognize we must forgive.
If we don’t forgive from the heart, unforgiveness becomes a soil of bitterness. A place where seeds of bitterness can land. A place where self-rejection can land, a place where accusation can land. It becomes like a filter of our spiritual lens through which we see others, judge others, and see ourselves and judge ourselves. That’s the reason we must forgive. It’s really important, and I know some people have done horrible things to us and against us, but with God’s help we can forgive. It doesn’t leave them off the hook. It doesn’t mean that God won’t deal with them. It just means that our hearts will be free and clear and pure for us to be our best person.
God, I thank you for the one hearing this, and if they sense that there’s some forgiveness that needs to happen, would you walk with them through that? Would you help them? Bless them, strengthen them, anoint them with mercy and grace to fully forgive. I ask in the name of Jesus, amen.