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In Matthew 18:21-35 we find Jesus’ teaching on forgiveness in the Parable of the Ungrateful Servant.

The key thought in Jesus’ teaching is this: If someone sins against you seven times a day, and returns to you seven times asking for forgiveness, you forgive him.

Rabbis said people should forgive three times. Peter thought he was being very generous to offer to forgive 7 times.

But Jesus goes even further with a more generous statement. He says, 77 times, or 70 times 7 (490?). This is not a definite number of times we should forgive. Jesus is saying – “Don’t Keep Score.” He is saying we must be willing to forgive an uncounted number of times if the offender comes asking for repentance.

Jesus was teaching that record-keeping was not a part of forgiveness.

Look at this example: let’s say that 10,000 talents = upwards of multi-millions of dollars. This represents a sum of money which would be impossible for anyone to repay.

The master made a wise decision. He could have had the man thrown in jail. But that was not a viable solution. That would mean that he would never regain his loss by throwing the servant in jail. The man could not earn anything to pay back the money while locked up in jail.

Instead, the master showed compassion toward his servant, released him, and forgave his debt, realizing that it was impossible for the servant to repay.

Later, another servant owed a debt of 100 denarii to the forgiven man In that day 100 denarii were equal to 100 days’ wages. Now, that is really nothing in comparison to the sum of money which had been forgiven him.

This servant too begged for mercy. Saying he would pay him back. He begged for the patience of the servant. The previously forgiven servant was not as compassionate as his master had been. Rather than showing compassion and allowing him time to pay, or forgiving his as had his own master, he had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. As was stated earlier, sending the man to prison until he paid the debt was futile. No work. No money. No debt repaid.

As we know, our sins will be found out. And that is exactly what happened in this case. Other servants saw what had happened and went to their master (the one who had forgiven his servant of the 10,000 talents) and reported to him the actions of the earlier forgiven servant.

The master promptly withdrew his lenient action toward the first servant and gives him the treatment he deserves – turned him over to the jailers to be tortured until he paid back all he owed.

How long do you think it took him to repay the debt? It never happened. This was a judgment, not just on his financial situation, but it was a judgment upon his soul. It was an eternal judgment.

Jesus uses this story to apply a teaching of genuine forgiveness. Genuine forgiveness is forgiveness from the heart. That kind of forgiveness is required of all who have been forgiven.

"So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses." Jesus is saying here that it is more than an earthly situation. It is a spiritual situation. And the judgment is more than an earthy one. It is an eternal judgment. Our eternity depends upon how we exercise forgiveness, because of the unmatchable gift of forgiveness we have received in Jesus Christ, and by His sacrifice.

We must keep our hearts open for reconciliation at the slightest true repentance and keeping ourselves free from bitterness.

We are to forgive one who sins against us, and is repentant and to do so without judging whether the repentance is genuine or not.

Luke 17:4 – “If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, ‘I repent,’ forgive him.”

Follow the example Jesus set while he was hanging on the cross, near death, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” Luke 23:34

We deny ourselves blessings when we are unwilling to forgive. Instead, we live daily lives of bitterness and hatred, always disgruntled because we have not had our way; because we feel we have been wronged by someone and we refuse to forgive.

Genuine forgiveness does not keep score. Genuine forgiveness does not keep the offence alive and active.

----- Gary K Fair 01 September 2020

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