The Fruit and The Vine: LONG SUFFERING III
“Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.” Matthew 18:21-22 (NKJV)
In the movie “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End” there is scene where Davy Jones has had enough of young master Will Turners check. Davy Jones slaps a tea cup outta Will’s hand and exclaims “Do not test me.” Davy pretty much loses his patience with being told about losing and betraying a love of his heart, Calypso!! His circumstances in his present life are very much based in this moment he once had with her. Shame too, because he didn’t even do what he was commissioned to do as Captain of The Dutchmen—ferry the dead of the sea to their final resting place. Instead he attacks the living and finds joy in preying on their fear of him and an impending death. Biblical sight being 20/20 Jesus wouldn’t have any of Davy Jones’ check. Here’s why…
Jesus is quite clear when He tells us that good relationships require work, which includes a special kind of determination, patience and what Davy Jones lacks…mercy. Matthew 18 is full of examples of where we can see this as a reality. Such is the case where Peter, who should know better, asks Jesus about the amount of times a brother can be forgiven. It is as if he is making sure that it is only seven times and that would be for a lifetime. But that is not how Jesus works, is it? Absolutely not, instead we get a parable about an unmerciful servant. You remember him, don’t you? A king loses his patience with the servants debt being unpaid, but shows him mercy and forgives the debt. Whereas the servant bumps into someone who owes him much less, loses his patience with the friend, throws him jail over the debt and in the end winds up having the mercy showed him removed from him. Not good!!
Let’s paraphrase my buddy Matt Henry for this—As Christians we live solely on God’s mercy and forgiveness but at times we seem to go backward to forgive the offenses of our brothers (or sisters). We’ve three things to glean from the parable as well.
- The king’s clemency. Just like the debt forgiven by the king our heavenly Father knows that the debt of sin is too great, so great that we are not able to erase it. See here what every sin deserves; this is the wages of sin, to be sold as a slave or to be sent to Lake El-Burn-O.
- The servant’s unreasonable severity toward his friend, very unlike the king’s clemency toward him. I mean, after being forgiven for his massive debt why did the forgiven servant refuse to be patient and merciful with his friend? I guess we shouldn’t make light of wronging our friends but it ain’t cool to aggravate the wrong done by our friends towards us.
- The king’s rebuking his servant’s cruelty. “The greatness of sin magnifies the riches of pardoning mercy; and the comfortable sense of pardoning mercy, does much to dispose our hearts to forgive our brethren.” (Matthew Henry) Too bad that when we lose our patience this wonderful statement gets chucked out the window…bottom line, no matter how much it frustrates you, you have to forgive in the same manner that you’ve been forgiven by a God that can open the earth beneath your feet and swallow you up.
I haven’t been able to figure out what it is about me that trips me up like Peter. At times I really want there to be a limit to how I need to forgive the same person over the same thing, over and over again. I get myself all worked up over nothing (well it ain’t nothing most times anyway) with people and in reality they need to be forgiven just as much as I do. I know that seventy times seven (490 for those keeping score) isn’t enough forgiveness for what I’ve done but because of what the ultimate example of patience and forgiveness , Jesus Christ, has taught me sometimes it isn’t about what He has extended to me but what I have to extend to others. Amen? Chris Hughes is a graduate of the Colony of Mercy and a weekly Freedom Fighter blogger. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Think About This: “A sanctified Christian cannot cherish grudges and keep grievances. We dare lay up any account against a brother even for a single night, or we cannot claim His full forgiveness for ourselves.”—A.B. Simpson
This Week’s Verse to Memorize: Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord. Psalm 27:14