Matthew 18 is the parable of the unforgiving servant.
The king wanted to settle his accounts. God wants all accounts settled between Him and us and between one another. He desires us to make peace with each other and live a life of forgiveness. His mercy is new every morning! It never stops.
This kings servant owes a large debt! Too huge to pay off in his lifetime I am sure. All He has, including himself and his family are going to be sold until the debt can be paid to the king. The fact is, I do not deserve His mercy. I do deserve eternal bondage as a prisoner. But Jesus took that upon Himself and now I have the ability to be set completely free and walk as a son of God. This is an amazing gift available to all! At the time we receive this, I am no longer in my old identity as slave. Along with our identity, expectations from my Father, my Master, change. He expects me to represent His kingdom like a royal son. I am expected to change! It is interesting that in the beginning of the chapter the disciples are asking who is the greatest in my Fathers kingdom? Jesus says, “those that humble themselves and be like a child!” I walk in humility and become like a child. A child that knows nothing, but what he sees and hears in his environment. This child is suppose to be taught mostly by his parents and leadership over him. Jesus told us He only says what He heard His Father say and did what He saw Dad do. This king shows the servant mercy and the servant should then be a leader like the king. That is what the king expects! That is what my Father in Heaven expects of me!
The servant that was forgiven had a servant that owed him a good amount of money, but not near as much as he owed the king. He goes to settle this debt and has no compassion and no mercy like he had just been shown. He harbored unforgiveness against his servant. I am sure the forgiven servant is thinking of himself only. Except the fact that his family, all his belongings and himself were just set free from a huge debt that they could never repay, more than likely. He sees his freedom and gets greedy. He can have more now for himself. That vacation home in the mountains I always wanted is at my fingertips. I just need to collect from those that owe me so I can buy it. This was an act of pride. God gives grace to the humble but resists the proud. There could be many reasons behind his thinking, but pride is a definite root here.
The truth is this my Father forgave me all my sins that I could never ever repay with anything I or anybody except Jesus. Jesus gave His life for my ransom. His shed blood has cleansed me. I am in relationship with hundreds of people and see many daily. I have thousands of opportunities to pick up offense and hold unforgiveness. Those that are closest to me often hurt me the most. My Father gives me the choice. Will I humble myself like his little boy and forgive like He did me? Or, will I hold it against them, in pride?
I see that when this servant was forgiven by the king he was actually given full freedom. He was restored to the place he would be if he never had sinned (owed a debt). He is given all he owns and set up nicely. So when I release another of an offense/injustice done against me, I am to do so like my Father in Heaven. When He forgives me, my sin against him is cast far away and forgotten. I am restored to the place I would be without sinning against Him.
Just the other day we went to see Libby’s one day Kindergarten program that helps us homeschool her. We came home and hit a nail in our rear driver side tire. I heard it hissing as I stepped out of the car. I back it out of the garage just in case I need to change the tire. I get out, look, and it still has a good amount of air in the tire. I ask for Sarah and the kids to hurry out so I can go before it gets to low. Sarah then says, “but what if you do not make it?” I hear, “You can’t make it! You will get stranded. What are you thinking?” This is NOT what she said. I did get upset at her and gave the silent treatment as she got out and walked in. I eventually made it to the tire shop and was able to have a good half hour to talk to God about this. I found offense from my childhood and had to walk through forgiveness of many of my leaders in the past. I got back and talked with Sarah and asked for forgiveness. We then have a great talk and I am then redeemed to the place as if it had not happened. She may not be able to forget completely, but I have been redeemed in her heart and eyes. Any judgements she may have had concerning this event is released as she forgives me. Maybe she thought I acted like a 12 year old in the situation, saying I was immature. This judgement was released as she fully forgave me. I acted quick in repenting, and was also shown other people I needed to forgive from my past. It was amazing because I was able to get some amazing freedom from one small, seemingly insignificant event.
Peter asked how many times do we forgive the same person for the same offense? It is understood, forever! Honestly I know this was not the first time I reacted to something she said in the same way. I learned in my late teens to keep my mouth shut when I get upset like that. If you can’t say something nice, Jamin, don’t say anything. The issue is, is that I know my wife. Silence to her is painful. It allows the enemy in to speak lies about me to her. Doubts creep in of my character. I could never accuse her in anger. That is not me. The next worse thing from yelling at her mean things of who she is, is silence. It may be on the same level. I do know she does not like it. I also know I have never yelled mean things at her or about her. Other people have spoken ugly to her and I have seen the effects of it. Many may not see the silent treatment as an offense, but it is. It opens a door for the enemy to jump in and speak lies. We have had many talks throughout our relationship about this issue. Sarah has forgiven me, time and time again. Like Peter, I am not a perfect man. I could possibly give the silent treatment again one day. I do know that I will look to repent even quicker the next time.
The king hands the unforgiving servant over to be tortured and Jesus tells us His Father will do the same to anybody unwilling to forgive. Unforgiveness opens a door for the enemy to be allowed to torment us. Not only that, the servant he did not forgive was not released from prison. They both were tortured by one person’s unforgiveness. In my example story I can tell you this little thing was tormenting on both Sarah and I until forgiveness manifested correctly. The enemy came in with lies about each others character and so on. The point is when we harbor unforgiveness, it places not only the person harboring it in bondage/prison, but also the person he did not forgive. These are heavy chains that wears on both parties.
The tormenting, I think can be a number of things. One for sure is the loss of relationship with the other person. I look back in my life and see many great friendships that went sour due to unforgiveness. One person wrongs another and the one wronged will not forgive. This is torture for both parties, because the friendship is lost. I have seen unforgiveness rip families apart. Some issues were very small things, that were blown up by the open door of unforgiveness.
We were made in the image of God! We were made for relationship. One of my most rewarding relationships I have is with Sarah. The husband and wife relationship is so rewarding. At the same time, it is also the most challenging relationship I have. The closer and more intimate the relationship you have with a person the more tormenting it can be with harbored unforgiveness. This is one reason divorce is so devastating to all parties involved. I find it interesting that the subject of marriage and divorce is the next thing Jesus speaks on in Chapter 19. The Pharisees, who are always trying to trick Jesus, ask him about divorce. Jesus gives a great answer. Divorce was never in My Father’s heart! Husband and wife are to be one flesh and that which God puts together, man (includes husband/wife) should not separate. God’s desire is for good healthy relationships where both parties are always ready to forgive and not looking to offend the other.
What if I am sinned against?
I will choose to bind and loose in forgiveness! Just before the parable of the unforgiving servant Jesus tells us how to deal with a person that has sinned against (offended) us. The heart behind this is not about being right or wrong, but about seeking forgiveness and reconciliation of the relationship. It says to tell him his fault. “Jamin, when you joked, and said I stink, that offended me!” We are not told to go tell him all his wrongs. “Jamin, you accused me and are filled with hate saying I stink.” To go in a spirit of accusation or to go with a judging heart will only cause more conflict and more offenses that need forgiven. This is where speaking truth in love comes in! It may be good to model after Jesus. He loved to ask questions. Go ask the person questions. The Holy Spirit will probably reveal to them how they offended you and repent. First, you go alone and try and reconcile. If he continues to not forgive, bring a few people that you and the person are close with. If he still will not forgive, bring the whole church to the person and seek forgiveness. If he still refuses you have to let him go. This is not to say hurt or torment is gone from either party. For the party that has been sinned against, if they seek hard after forgiveness, to these extremes, the person can at least feel as if they did all they could to try and reconcile the relationship.
My Father in heaven actively sought out my redemption in sending His only Son to die for me. My duty as a son in His kingdom is to actively seek peace and reconciliation. Relationships are very important to my Dad. He wants relationship with me and wants me to have good relationships with others. He desires me to be a peacemaker, salt and light to this world. I am to reflect Him and His kingdom. I am to set my heart to seek out forgiveness, whether I offended another or the other offended me.