Grace, Forgiveness, & Gasoline
Everyone will agree with this one thing today. You may not agree with anything else in this post, but we all can agree on this: If I were to light matches next to an open can of gasoline, it makes for an explosive combination.
If we look at Matthew 18:21-35, we see this interaction with Jesus and Peter.
21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”
Peter often gets a bad rap for this. Usually, you read this and think that Peter was looking for a loophole or some line in the sand, but we do this all the time? We look for a way to justify our own sins. We rationalize it and say, “at least I’m not as bad as them,” or we look for some way to live in our own sins.
This wasn’t what Peter was asking. Actually, 7 is the number of completion. It took 7 days to create the Earth, the Sabbath is on the 7th day, 7 trumpets in Revelations. 7 was considered the number of completion. So Peter asks Jesus, do I need to completely forgive someone who sins against me? And he’s probably expecting a Gold star from Jesus. But Jesus answers him with this:
22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.
Jesus is telling Peter to go beyond completion.Don’t stop at forgiving them 7 times but keep on forgiving the other person.Essentially, Jesus tells Peter it’s not a matter of numbers but instead it’s a matter of the heart and spirit.Jesus tells all who follow Him that you need to go beyond completion and continually completely forgive.Often times you say that you have forgiven someone, but you remember the next day what happened and you still get mad and upset.These feelings come back again and you forget that we have even forgiven them in the first place.Continually completely forgiving means that you forgive the person every day.This means that this is a decision that you make every day, not just a one-time decision.
And then Jesus goes into one of His many parables or a story that describes what he’s saying, which is awesome for people like me. Like not only did he lay it out clearly, he then paints a picture of what it looks like. Like we get the broad stroke of the picture and then He fills in the details.
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.”
Jesus tells this story and it perfectly describes each one of us. You love forgiveness from God when you mess up, but when it comes to forgiving others, you don’t like you give it out. It becomes much harder when you have to forgive others. God forgave you and insurmountable debt, so that you can forgive others, and show others this crazy love.
You have been forgiven a huge debt, one that you would never be able to repay. This debt is sin in this story. Jesus came down to Earth and died in our place so that we would be forgiven. He has called us to forgive others like He forgave us.
When you forgive others, you truly see how much you have been forgiven by God. Read that last sentence again.
The gasoline is like life. We will always have people in our life that do us wrong, that we are called to forgive. On its own, the gasoline doesn’t have any explosive effects. The matches and that spark are your response. If you decide to lite the match and have un-forgiveness, bitterness, and anger in our hearts, you don’t blow the other person up, you blow yourself up.
Do you have someone in your life that you are holding a grudge against? Someone that you are still angry at? Is there anyone in your life that you need to forgive? You have the choice, will you forgive and cause no harm, or will you lite the match and cause your own destruction.
What do you think? How does forgiveness heal or hurt?
Comment Below your thoughts or questions.
Pastor Levi's thoughts on Christianity and Christians. I will try to update this every Monday.