Summary: Seek forgivness and grant forgiveness to others.
Our Gospel message today has a clear message for us. Forgive and you will be forgiven. Don’t forgive, and expect your debts to come back to you. The slave had amassed an unprecedented debt. In today’s standards, it would be the equivalent of $15 million. In reality, there was no way that this slave could ever hope to pay off such a debt. It was an unachievable mark.
However, when it came time for the slave to collect from another, he was unwilling to forgive a $15 debt and instead had the debtor thrown into prison until his family could repay the debt.
Such is our own life. We have unprecedented debt in regards to God our Father. We have offended him and owe Him much for His grace. He chose to forgive our debt as if it never existed. In return, we need to offer that same forgiveness to those around us.
Forgiveness is the virtue we value the most, and exercise the least. We all love to be forgiven; we expect it and we want it. But often, we struggle to forgive others; we resist it, and sometimes, we even refuse to do it.
Forgiveness is not natural. That’s why it’s so hard to do.
Forgiveness is not fair. Our sense of justice wants to be vindicated.
Often, we’d rather seek revenge rather than grant forgiveness. We’d rather push blame onto others instead of taking responsibility and asking for forgiveness ourselves.
Forgiveness is like meeting someone for the first time. That means there’s no baggage. No history. No grudges. No hidden resentments. To forgive means to start over by giving people a fresh start. In short, to forgive is to give grace to another, and free ourselves from bitterness and hate.
Forgiveness isn’t just for others. It’s for ourselves as well. Having guilt on our back is never a good feeling. Pride often gets in the way and we don’t feel comfortable asking for forgiveness for however we’ve hurt those around us. Instead of humbly coming forward and admitting fault, we allow division to rise between our relationships. By simply asking for forgiveness, we can sow the seeds of peace, harmony and restoration.
We’ve all done things wrong at one point or another. We’ve hurt those closest to us with our words and with our deeds. We’ve said things in the height of passion and anger that were designed to spur painful emotions. We’ve lied, cheated and stole. We’ve hated and we’ve been stubborn where we had no right. We’ve pushed love aside and replaced it with revenge.
Just as the man in the gospel message received forgiveness yet failed to forgive, sometimes, we might also look forward to receiving forgiveness from God, yet fail to give that same blessing to those around us. Everyone has affected relationships with either forgiving or failing to forgive.
Think about how this attitude can affect those closest to us. Ernest Hemingway loved to write about the country of Spain. In his short story, The Capital of the World, Hemingway tells of a father and son who had stopped talking to one another. Things got so bad that the son left home. After several years, the father wanted to mend the relationship and so he looked everywhere for his son. When he came to the capital city of Madrid, he decided to go to the newspaper office and take out a big ad in the newspaper that said this: “Paco, please meet me at 12 noon tomorrow in front of the newspaper office. All is forgiven. I love you. Your Father.”
The next day at 12 noon, there were 800 men named Paco standing in front of the building! I suspect we have some Paco’s here this morning in need of forgiveness. We may also have some parents who need to give the gift of forgiveness to others.
Freely Grant Forgiveness
But, seeking forgiveness is only have the picture. We need to freely grant forgiveness as well. Willingly and unconditionally. If we don’t forgive others, the pain, suffering and bitterness will eat us alive from the inside out. Placing pain on ourselves as well as on the offender.
Take a look at how spite can eat away at both sides of an offense. In the mid-1800s, there was a wealthy real-estate broker who aquired a plot of land in an exclusive residential area of New York City. This lot presented an unusual problem. It was five feet wide and 104 feet long. There was nothing that he could do but sell it to his neighbor. He went to the neighbor and asked if he would be interested in buying the lot.
The neighbor had a beautiful apartment building right next door and could have used the space to expand some of the apartments. However, he offered only 20% of the cost of the land. The millionaire exploded in anger. “Why, it’s worth five times that!”