September 11, 2020 | Stories
This devotion is based on the upcoming sermon for the week. We are confident that when we hear or read God's Word it is beneficial and powerful for Christians. May God richly bless you as you reflect on this reading and devotion.
A Reading from Matthew 18:21-35
Then Peter came to him and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?”
“No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven!
“Therefore, the Kingdom of Heaven can be compared to a king who decided to bring his accounts up to date with servants who had borrowed money from him. In the process, one of his debtors was brought in who owed him millions of dollars. He couldn’t pay, so his master ordered that he be sold—along with his wife, his children, and everything he owned—to pay the debt.
“But the man fell down before his master and begged him, ‘Please, be patient with me, and I will pay it all.’ Then his master was filled with pity for him, and he released him and forgave his debt.
“But when the man left the king, he went to a fellow servant who owed him a few thousand dollars. He grabbed him by the throat and demanded instant payment.
“His fellow servant fell down before him and begged for a little more time. ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it,’ he pleaded. But his creditor wouldn’t wait. He had the man arrested and put in prison until the debt could be paid in full.
“When some of the other servants saw this, they were very upset. They went to the king and told him everything that had happened. Then the king called in the man he had forgiven and said, ‘You evil servant! I forgave you that tremendous debt because you pleaded with me. Shouldn’t you have mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you?’ Then the angry king sent the man to prison to be tortured until he had paid his entire debt.
“That’s what my heavenly Father will do to you if you refuse to forgive your brothers and sisters from your heart.”
Jesus in our Bible reading for today invites us to always be ready to forgive. And he truly means at all times. He does not want us to simply think or talk about forgiveness, rather he wants his people to truly forgive. To embody the life, death, resurrection, ascension, and active rule of Jesus. To speak reconciliation into the lives of hurting and broken situations. To not simply give lip service, but give life sustaining words on behalf of our heavenly father.
Why? Because this is what the kingdom of God is all about. It embodies our lives and the lives of others who have been called from darkness and into the marvelous light of Jesus. As we continue our conversation on the kingdom of God, we linger at this lesson because it is here the at Jesus establishes and maintains this kingdom. Earthly kingdoms are built on power and prestige. But the kingdom of heaven is built not with armies or taking things for yourself. Rather, the kingdom of heaven is where Jesus lives and will one day bring that kingdom fully down to us. And this kingdom is where forgiveness reigns. Where we give away freely that which has been given to us. Where we turn the other cheek and show radical generosity and love because of the love first show to us.
And this is what Jesus discusses for today. Someone begins to ask Jesus how many times he should forgive someone. To which Jesus responds with seven times seventy times. The point is not a definite number. Jesus is not putting a limit on our forgiveness. He is not saying that you only have to show love and grace up to a definitive point and then you can be done with someone. Rather, Jesus is showing us how to love and forgive as we have been loved and forgiven.
How many times do we sin? Answer, daily. Every single day with countless offenses before our God. And how many times are we forgiven? Answer, every single time. Therefore, we are told to forgive in the same way. To forgive without limit. To not withhold the words of grace and gospel to someone who is stuck in destruction and despair. We are to forgive as God does. To forgive without limit. to forgive seven times seventy times and beyond.
But how easy is this to do? It depends. Sometimes, on our better days, the words come easily to us. When the offenses perhaps are not so big. When someone forgets to invite us to a party. Forgets to show up to an appointment. Forgets social customs. Forgets their temper and quickly loses it.
But what about when it is harder? When someone costs us lots of money. When they hurt our pride. When they insult our family? When our religion and deep values are attacked? When after we have forgiven someone countless times, they continue to do the same thing. That is when things get a bit more difficult. And that is what Jesus speaks an apt word into our lives. These are the moments where even Christians need to hear the words to turn the other cheek.
I invite you to think about those moments in your life where it is easy to well up with anger and concern? To ponder those places that you have forgiven someone more than 7 times 70 times and they keep sinning against you? Where is it difficult? Because those are the places that you called to forgive. To love as you have been loved. Without restraint. And without limitation.
And that is good news. As the book of 1 John reminds us, we love because he first loved us. You are loved in Jesus. You have been forgiven and will continually be forgiven because of this love. So, show that love in return. And live in the forgiveness that you have in this kingdom of God.
Pastor Jacob Schultz