In the book of Matthew, chapter 18, verses 21 to 35, we are presented with a great lesson on forgiveness. The story begins with Peter asking Jesus how many times he should forgive his brother who sins against him. Peter suggests seven times, thinking he is being generous. However, Jesus responds by saying, “Not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” Jesus is emphasizing the importance of limitless forgiveness.

To illustrate his point, Jesus tells the parable of a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. One servant owes him an enormous amount of money, equivalent to millions of dollars. The servant pleads for mercy, and the king, moved with compassion, forgives the debt completely.

However, the same servant goes out and finds a fellow servant who owes him a small amount of money. Instead of showing the same mercy he received, the servant demands payment and refuses to forgive the debt. When the king hears about this, he becomes furious and delivers the unforgiving servant to be tortured until he repays his own debt.

This parable teaches us several important lessons about forgiveness as follows;

First, it emphasizes the incredible debt that we owe to God. Just like the servant who owed the king an enormous amount, we owe God a debt we can never repay. Yet, God, in His infinite mercy, forgives us completely when we repent and ask for forgiveness.

The parable also shows us the importance of forgiving others. Just as the king expected the servant to forgive his fellow servant, God expects us to forgive those who have wronged us. Forgiveness is not just a suggestion; it is a commandment from God.

Furthermore, the parable warns us about the consequences of unforgiveness. The unforgiving servant was handed over to be tortured until he could repay his debt. This serves as a reminder that when we refuse to forgive others, we are not only hurting them but also bringing harm upon ourselves.

So, how do we practice forgiveness in our lives? It starts with understanding the magnitude of God’s forgiveness toward us. When we grasp the enormity of the debt we have been forgiven, it becomes easier to extend that same forgiveness to others. We must also remember that forgiveness is a process and may require time and effort. It is not always easy, but with God’s help, we can choose to forgive.

By Roge Sison

An ordained clergy of The United Methodist Church.

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