Settling Accounts with Others

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 bags of gold 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 “At this 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 silver coins. 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 it 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 outraged 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 handed 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 or sister from your heart.” Matthew 18:23-36

When we read this story, we know who we should be routing for, we know the outcome, but we always end up realizing He was talking about us when we have unforgiving hearts.

Forgiveness is complicated because we all live messy, complex lives with a lot of moving parts beyond our control (i.e., people).

Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as forgiving someone regardless of what they have done to us. That, I believe, circumvents God’s restoration aspect of forgiveness. In other words, you shouldn’t let someone off the hook without them acknowledge their role in the hurt. Obviously if that person is no longer in the picture at all, then God will give you grace to forgive.

God still commands us to forgive. It doesn’t make it an easy or pleasant task, but He’s commanded us to do it for very good reasons, namely that you won’t harbor bitterness.

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