NOTE: MPOW stands for Ministry Passage of the Week, and contains a weekly verse that comes from Bible Boot Camp, an intensive leadership development course that I am teaching this fall to about 20 growing leaders. Click here for other MPOWs.
Matthew 18: 21-35 – The Forgiven Must Forgive
21 Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” 22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven. 23 “Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants.24 When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents.25 And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. 26 So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ 27 And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. 28 But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii, and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay what you owe.’ 29 So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ 30 He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt. 31 When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place. 32 Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. 33 And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ 34 And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. 35 So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”
One of the most powerful negative influences in the life of a believer is bitterness and a spirit of unforgiveness. A friend of mine once said, “Holding onto unforgiveness is like drinking poison and hoping it will hurt the one who offended you.” So true. And so inappropriate for somebody who has been forgiven an unpayable debt through the grace of Jesus.
This parable is especially thought-provoking when you put the debt amounts into modern money:
- The man is forgiven debt of 10,000 talents (1 talent = 20 yrs wages).
- Then he refuses to forgive debt of 100 denarii (1 denarius = 1 days wages).
- In today’s terms, the man was forgiven a $7 billion debt (unpayable) and refused to forgive a $12,000 debt.
Are you holding onto bitterness in any area of your life? Are there certain people that you are unwilling to forgive?
May the gospel of radical forgiveness melt your heart, allowing you to “be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Eph 4:32).