July 27, 2013
READ: Matthew 18:21-35
His master was filled with pity for him, and he . . . forgave his debt (v.27).
Eric Smallridge calls Renee Napier “an angel”. He says this because Renee forgave him for killing her daughter Meagan in a drunk-driving accident. Although Renee’s forgiveness took a long time, Eric says he “found his eternal salvation as a result”. What’s more, Renee’s pardon encouraged her family to follow suit. Together they petitioned the courts to have Eric released from prison after serving only 11 years of his 22 year sentence. The fruit of Renee’s forgiving heart has given Eric a “second chance at life”.
Jesus told a story about a king who forgave one of his debtors and gave the man a second chance (Matthew 18:27). The king was about to sell the man and his family into slavery because of an unpaid multimillion dollar debt. But the debtor knelt down and pleaded for more time, promising to repay everything. The king “was filled with pity for him, and he released him and forgave his debt” (v.27).
Sadly the pardoned debtor then refused to soften his heart towards a man who owed him only a lot less. He grabbed the man by the throat and demanded immediate payment. Instead of passing along the forgiveness he had been given, he had the man arrested and jailed, pending payment in full. When the king heard this, he questioned the pardoned debtor, “Shouldn’t you have mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you?” (v.33).
God wants us to “make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends [us]” because He’s pardoned us (Colossians 3:13). His grace poured out on our lives can help soften our hearts towards our ‘debtors’. We can then release them from whatever they owe us.—Jennifer Benson Schuldt
Read Psalm 86:5 to see God’s attitude towards forgiveness. Look up Genesis 50:14-21 for a snapshot of true family forgiveness.
What’s the spiritual danger involved in holding a grudge? What would happen if God hadn’t released us from the penalty of our sin?