Week Five Day Four - Devotion

14 Sep 2017
Cindy Erasmus
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Slowly and prayerfully read through Matthew 18:21-35 two or three times asking God to reveal wonderful things through His word.

The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant
21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” 22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times. 23 “Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24 As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold was brought to him. 25 Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt. 26 “At this the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ 27 The servant’s master took pity on him, cancelled the debt and let him go. 28 “But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded. 29 “His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’ 30 “But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. 31 When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened. 32 “Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I cancelled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. 33 Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ 34 In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed. 35 “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”

This parable follows right after Jesus’ instructions on how to handle conflict. Why? Because often conflict results in hurt, scars, wounds and broken relationships and when that happens: “We need a miracle” (John Ortberg). And Jesus has given us one. Forgiveness. To help us forgive it is important to note that our forgiveness flows out of the fact that Jesus has forgiven us (Colossians 3:13). When we fully grasp all that Jesus did for us and how much He forgave us (like the King did for His servant) we cannot help but forgive the small grievance we have against our fellowman. It may also help to note that:

Forgiveness is not:

• Accepting bad behaviour or pretending that what someone did wasn’t wrong.
• Forgetting, as this requires a very bad memory.
• The same thing as reconciling – sometimes people think forgiving means we must
reunite with them no matter what. Forgiveness and reconciliation are two separate
things. Reconciliation requires the rebuilding of trust which requires good faith on the
part of both parties.

Forgiveness happens in the following three stages:

1) Forgiveness is a decision not a feeling. Forgiveness is deciding to give up the right to
get back at someone.
2) Forgiveness is choosing to see and feel about the person in a new way. When
someone hurts us we tend not to see them for who they are because we only see the
hurt. Forgiveness is choosing to stop only believing bad things about them and seeing
beyond our hurt to the person who bears the image of God.
3) Forgiveness is praying for the well-being of the other person and for good things for
them – this is usually one of the final stages of forgiveness.

We are always to pursue forgiving people who hurt us, even when the offenders don’t ask for it or deserve it. The three stages above are not about how we feel they are choices to think and behave differently and as we put these decisions into practice our feelings of forgiveness will come along too. God commands us to forgive in these verses because it is the best way to live and because He has forgiven us!

Personal reflection:
• Which of the servants in the parable above do you most relate to? And why?
• Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal any un-forgiveness you may be holding in your heart.
• Ask the Holy Spirit to empower you to work through the three stages of forgiveness.

Based on Chapter 8 of John Ortberg’s book Everybody’s Normal Till You Get To Know Them.

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