S (Scripture) – Matthew 18:21-35 “Then Peter came and said to Him, ‘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. For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. When he had begun to settle them, one who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him. But since he did not have the means to repay, his lord commanded him to be sold, along with his wife and children and all that he had, and repayment to be made. So the slave fell to the ground and prostrated himself before him, saying, ‘Have patience with me and I will repay you everything.’ And the lord of that slave felt compassion and released him and forgave him the debt. But that slave went out and found one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred denarii; and he seized him and began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay back what you owe.’ So his fellow slave fell to the ground and began to plead with him, saying, ‘Have patience with me and I will repay you.’ But he was unwilling and went and threw him in prison until he should pay back what was owed. So when his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were deeply grieved and came and reported to their lord all that had happened. Then summoning him, his lord said to him, ‘You wicked slave, I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow slave, in the same way that I had mercy on you?‘ And his lord, moved with anger, handed him over to the torturers until he should repay all that was owed him. My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart.”
O (Observation) – Lord, You are using this parable to help us understand how absolutely ridiculous it sounds for us to cry out for mercy to You for our egregious misdeeds, yet withhold that same mercy from others that have wronged us. This slave owed an amount so great that there was no way it could have ever been repaid. The king had compassion on him and forgave the debt completely. Fresh on the heels of the greatest act of mercy he’ed ever known, that man then went out and found a fellow slave who owed him such a small debt, yet demanded repayment without mercy, going as far as choking him. How can someone who has experienced such amazing grace poured out from You refuse to allow that grace to flow through him to others?
A (Application) – The key word I see You drawing my attention to is “unwilling.” When begged for mercy, the wicked slave was “unwilling” to forgive. This word can also be likened to “obstinate,” meaning the person refuses willfully to comply with reason or directive. The message from Jesus is clear – no matter what the offense committed against us, we are commanded to forgive others.
As explained by Tony Evans, there are two different types of forgiveness – unilateral forgiveness, and transactional forgiveness. Unilateral forgiveness is forgiving someone even if they have not asked to be forgiven, or have not shown any visible signs of repentance and desire to see the relationship restored. An example of this is when Jesus was dying on the cross, yet asking His Father to forgive those who were crucifying Him, or when Stephen was being stoned to death, yet praying for forgiveness for his murderers. Transactional forgiveness takes place when the relationship is being restored due to intentional steps taken by the offending party. When fellowship with each other is the desired result, transactional forgiveness is what allows that to occur. With God’s help, by the power of the Holy Spirit, through the blood of Jesus, we are able to unilaterally offer forgiveness to all who have wronged us. When the offending party repents, seeks mercy, and desires fellowship with us, it is possible through the grace of God. When we refuse to offer forgiveness, we are essentially blocking the work of God in our lives because we are not on the same page. Is there anyone that we need to forgive today?
P (Prayer) – Heavenly Father, thank You for Your unrelenting pursuit of my heart. You are love, and if grace is an ocean, we’re all sinking (as the song goes). Your desire is for us to be in constant fellowship with You, and we cannot enjoy Your presence fully if we are harboring un-forgiveness in our hearts. Bring to mind anyone in our lives that we need to release through offering forgiveness. Show us anything that we need to do to work through it – make a phone call, write a letter, visit in person…help us to see the glorious freedom that You provide to those who take You at Your word on this matter.