by Brent Moody
In Matthew 18:21-22 Peter asks Jesus, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times? Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.” Within Judaism, forgiving three times is adequate for showing forgiveness, so Peter seems to think he’s being generous when he suggests seven times. However, Jesus instructs Peter to forgive seventy-seven times, which is essentially forgiving without keeping count. True disciples of Jesus should be “living in forgiveness” just as Christ daily forgives us.
In the parable of the unforgiving servant (Matthew 18:23-35), Jesus compares the kingdom of God to a king settling accounts with his servants. In the story, a king was brought a servant who owed a massive debt (todays equivalent of $6 billion!). The king ordered the servant to be sold, but when the servant fell on his knees and begged for mercy, the king released him and forgave him of the debt. Soon after, the servant found a fellow servant who owed him a much smaller debt (the equivalent of $12,000) and instead of forgiving his fellow servant and extending mercy, as the king had done for him, he had the servant taken to prison. Witnesses were distressed by the event and reported it to the king who said, “You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you had pleaded with me. And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?”
The servant’s inability to forgive his fellow servant shows that he had not been transformed by the forgiveness extended by his master. If we are unable to grant forgiveness to others, has our heart truly experienced God’s forgiveness? A transformed heart must extend God’s mercy.Forgiveness is giving unconditional favor to someone who does not deserve it, just as God has done for us.