Today’s Reading – Matthew 16 – 18
Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt. (Matthew 18:27)
Nearly 21 years ago, I was caught and convicted by a man that I owed a staggering debt to. He had the power to have me locked away forever with no possibility of any kind of parole. What can I say, I was (and am) guilty. I had broken just about every law that this man established and I deserved whatever punishment He decided to give me. I was worthy of the eternal death penalty. Then a strange thing happened: I asked Him for mercy, and He granted it. He not only forgave me; He paid the debt for me and adopted me into His family, and I became both His child, and His brother. At first, I was overwhelmed with joy and thanksgiving. I learned that there were many others that had sinned against Him, and that He was willing to pardon them as well. I wanted to tell everybody about Him and His forgiveness. Thinking back on those days, I can’t recall one person on the planet that I was upset with; that I had a beef with, because I was too consumed with the forgiveness that I had received. But as time went by, I began to forget about the mercy and grace that I had received, and slowly developed a mindset where I subconsciously thought that I somehow deserved the pardon that I received. I began to think that my debt wasn’t as bad as others: that somehow the One that pardoned me needed me to help Him run His kingdom. I began to start thinking about others that, to me, were less worthy of forgiveness than myself. After all. I deserved it: they did not. This was all a slow, and subtle development in my mind. I then began to pick and choose who I would allow myself to forgive. Some did not deserve my forgiveness as I deserved the forgiveness that I received. I began to put people away in my own “debtor’s prison”.
Eventually I began to move farther and farther away from the One who had given me the pardon in the first place. I began to think, say, and do things that had already condemned me. Something inside of me bothered me, and I began to be grieved about my life; but at the same time, I began to give some second thoughts to the ones that I had locked away. I reasoned, “what right do I have to hold people in my prison, when I have been given a complete pardon for the same things.” If He was willing to forgive all of my past, present, and future debt, ought not I be willing to pardon some people myself.
I have been saved a long time, and through those years I have been hurt countless times by many different people. Unfortunately, however, I have also hurt just as many people as have injured me. I have given up the mind game of trying to somehow justify that my sins weren’t as bad as theirs were. I didn’t (and don’t) deserve God’s forgiveness; and I don’t deserve the forgiveness of the people that I have wronged. They don’t deserve it from me either; none of us do. However, I accept it. I have received forgiveness, therefore I must give forgiveness. If you have wronged me, I forgive you. If I have wronged you, please forgive me. Once bot of us are released from prison we will be free to serve the One who pardoned us in the first place.
And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you. (Ephesians 4:32)
And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil. (Luke 11:4)
Posted in Devotions by Phil Erickson with 1 comment.