Thursday, November 5, 2015

The Prisoner's Heart

Merriam-Webster defines forgiveness this way:
--to stop feeling anger toward
--to stop feeling anger about
--to stop requiring payment of
When I think about forgiveness, I see Jesus on the cross. I see pain, and blood, and sacrifice. I see eyes that looked out upon the people with love, and a voice uttering "Father forgive them, for they do not know what they're doing." What a contrast to what a lot of us consider forgiveness looks like today. We throw the word around as
if it came in the mail from a cheap TV infomercial. We are offended and we put on our forgiveness mask. Smile, nod, maybe hug, and we meet the first two dictionary definitions. We stop feeling anger toward, or about, but we never stop requiring payment of. Sure, I will voice that I forgive you, but I'm going to remember that you hurt me once, and it's going to be reflected in my dealings with you forever. Or maybe I won't deal with you at all. I'm done. I'm not speaking to you, I'm not loving you, I don't care any more. I "forgave you", yet I am going to keep requiring payment of your debt. Stop. Just stop a minute. Take a step back, plop yourself in a chair, and read Matthew 18:21-35 (aptly titled "the parable of the unmerciful servant"). How does your definition of forgiveness align with what Jesus is demonstrating in these verses? I don't know about you, but I can almost feel that cold prison floor, and the dampness is seeping into my bones  I don't want to be there any more. Colossians 3:13 "Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you."

The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant

21 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?" 

22Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times. 

23"Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 

24 As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him. 

25 Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt. 

26 "The servant fell on his knees before him. 'Be patient with me,' he begged, 'and I will pay back everything.'

27 The servant's master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go. 

28 "But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii. He grabbed him and began to choke him. 'Pay back what you owe me!' he demanded. 

29 "His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, 'Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.'

30 "But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. 

31 When the other servants saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed and went and told their master everything that had happened. 

32 "Then the master called the servant in. 'You wicked servant,' he said, 'I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. 

33 Shouldn't you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?' 

34 In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed. 

35 "This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart."

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