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NIV is used unless otherwise noted.

The Amazing Do-Over: Day 4

Then the master called the servant in, “You wicked servant,” he said, “I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you? In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed. This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart. 
 Matthew 18:32-35

…Forgive and you will be forgiven…For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you” (Luke 6:37).

In the end, the story isn’t about who owed what to whom or the punishment they received. Remember the parable begins, “Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts…”.

In the parables Jesus was introducing His listeners to a new way of living in a new kind of kingdom over which He would reign. Entrance into the kingdom is obtained through God’s forgiveness for a debt of sin that we can’t comprehend, let alone repay. But forgiveness is not a one-time vertical transaction—from God to you. It is a core characteristic of life at all levels in Jesus’ kingdom.

Peter thought his proposal to forgive another up to seven times was gracious, if not magnanimous. Jesus was saying that in His kingdom, that kind of thinking can get you in trouble: “…with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

Forgiveness is not our call. Even if we aren’t very good at it, we are not exempt. When we have been hurt or insulted and forgiveness just doesn’t seem possible, we should hold our offense up to the pardon a holy and righteousness God has freely given to us.

Here, from Psalm 103, is a magnificent word picture.

For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His compassion on those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.

Go outside on a clear night and look up at the stars millions of miles away; or stand on the beach and look out at the ocean stretching to the horizon. That is the incomprehensible vastness of Christ’s forgiveness and the immensity of God’s never-ending kind of love. And it is our template.

Nancy Shirah

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