“Not…seven times but seventy-seven times.” (Matthew 18:22)
Jesus loved speaking in parables because it was a very effective method of teaching. He was a master storyteller and He had the ability to gain the attention and interest of His listeners. His stories drew their interest and they involved them in the drama of the story. His parables were not just simply engaging stories but they also revealed and still do reveal to all of us the love of God and the values of His kingdom. Their purpose is to draw us to a much deeper conversion of heart.
When Jesus wanted to bring a lesson home in a forceful manner He would often use exaggerations, which was a common Semitic practice, or He would use very contrasting opposites like wisdom and foolishness, generosity and stinginess and so on. A good example of this would be the scripture about the unforgiving servant who had been forgiven of his enormous debt, which was pretty much equivalent to 150,000 years worth of wages and then the servant turns around and refuses to cancel out the debt owed to him by another man and his debt was equivalent to just 100 days wages which was 1/20,000 of 1% as large as his debt that had been forgiven. Even though this servant acknowledged his need for mercy he refused to let that mercy soften his heart and he refused to forgive the man. This of course ended up being devastating to the servant when his master found out how unforgiving and ungrateful the servant was.
The ending of this story is a direct challenge for all of us to be just as forgiving toward other people as God has been toward us. It also is a story that underscores something that Jesus told the disciples in the Sermon on the Mount: “If you forgive others their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions.” (Matthew 6:14-15) If we don’t even try to forgive others and be merciful and compassionate toward others, we are going to find it extremely difficult to pray or to truly know God’s love and mercy in our own lives.
This might sound very intimidating but think about the parable of the ungrateful and unforgiving servant. Remember it is the experience of being forgiven that should move us to forgive others. It is the extent to which we know God’s mercy in our own lives which will be the extent to which we will treat others around us with mercy.
So, if you truly want to become more forgiving then run to Jesus and ask Him for a greater outpouring of His love. Remember the psalmist’s prayer: “Your ways, O Lord, make known to me” (Psalm 25:4). Open yourself up to His love so that you can in turn give it away to others!
“Thank you, Jesus, for the countless times You have forgiven my sins. By your grace, soften my heart. Let Your own immeasurable mercy teach me to be merciful as well.”
Daniel 3:25, 34-43
Lord we so often find it difficult to find forgiveness in our hearts.
Sometimes we feel far too crushed by the one who may have wronged us and we forget that we are always forgiven by You Lord for all of our sins.
Please remind us that we all are sinners and that in order for us to be forgiven we must too forgive.
Help us to see that we must run to Your Son, Jesus in order to receive more of His love to soften our hearts in order to be more merciful to those around us.