Daily Devotional – I’m Normal.™ I AM Ministries
“To promote Godly living in a culture committed to destroying it”
Monday, October 26, 2015
Canceling the Debt
Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “LORD, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?”
Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” (Matthew 1:21-22).
Peter was not the first person to wrestle with forgiveness. The inability to forgive is an issue every person struggles with in their life. We have all been wronged by others and have felt the searing sting of pain. When someone wounds us repeatedly, it feels as though salt were being rubbed in an open wound. The insult was bad enough the first time, and we ask ourselves why must we endure this ongoing irritation? Our response becomes a begrudging effort in self-control and Peter, the hot-head of the disciples, asked Christ how long he must keep his temper. Peter was hoping Jesus would put a small limit on how much he must endure, but Jesus informed Peter we are to be a reflection of His love and to keep turning our cheek.
Christ’s answer is difficult for us all. Our typical ways of responding to hurt or offense are predictable. Often our first response is to try to ignore the offense and just keep going the best we can, hoping there will be no repetition. At other times, we resort to seeking revenge or trying to return the hurt in a “Don’t get mad, get even” mentality. Another common response is to just stay angry at the person and cut off fellowship with them.
Frequently we refuse to forgive a person unconditionally because they have not asked for forgiveness. Moreover, we may even feel they really don’t deserve our forgiveness. We essentially hold them hostage until our own selfish demands are met. We withhold love, acceptance, respect, service, kindness, and patience until we feel we have been repaid for the injustice done to us. Unfortunately, repayment seldom occurs. The irony is that by holding the other person hostage, we put ourselves in a type of self-imposed prison.
Jesus tells us subtly that by hostage-taking we lock ourselves in a tight little space, which forces us to dwell on our anger, hurt, painful memories, bitterness, depression, and secret desires for revenge. Instead of impacting the offending party, we are the ones who must exert the energy, physical, emotional, and spiritual, to hold up the “walls” of this self-imposed prison. All of this takes energy, and few prisons exist that could match the torture of self-imposed bitterness and unforgiveness. Mark Twain mused that anger is the only thing that does more damage to the container than to the things around it. I suspect we’ve all done a little damage to our “container”.
Jesus was a model for forgiveness in our lives. He taught us to pray, “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven others.” (Matthew 6:12). He is telling us that forgiveness is a normal and expected thing for us to do. The point of the parable is that we have all been forgiven of an enormous debt we could never possibly repay. No debt owed to you could possibly compare to the enormous debt you owe God. Therefore, unlike the unforgiving man in the parable, we are obligated to forgive anyone who owes us as the result of a debt or a hurt.
In the parable of the unmerciful servant, Jesus reminds us how we all have an obligation to cancel the debts and injustices done to us by others. In the parable, the man was forgiven a huge debt but refused to cancel a small debt of money, even though the amount owed the man was the equivalent of only a few dollars. God has forgiven us of a mountain of sin debt against Him, Jesus is telling us is that we must forgive others as a reflection of His mercy towards us.
Jesus shows us it is normal to forgive. Arguably, you are never more Christ-like than when you are forgiving someone. Moreover, there is no debt against you that is too great for Him to help you forgive. He has the power and the strength you need to forgive others. Jesus is calling each of us to cancel the debts we have with each other – up to seventy-seven times. Call on Jesus today to help you cancel the debt in gratitude of the debts He cancelled on your behalf.
In His love and service,
A servant of Jesus Christ
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