Sunday 17 September 2017

Bible Book:

“And out of pity for him, the lord of that slave released him and forgave him the debt.” (v. 27)

Matthew 18:21-35 Sunday 17 September 2017

Psalm: Psalm 103


Forgiveness is all very well in principle, when you don't haveanyone in particular to forgive. It sounds generous, sensible anddefinitely the way to go. But when you actually need to forgivesomeone, a neighbour, a friend, a parent or even your enemy; thenforgiveness seems as hard as anything can be. You are filled with amoral outrage! It is so unfair to forgive. Surely it will set a badexample; there is moral peril here! Where would we be if there wereno proper consequences for our actions, no justice or balancing ofthe scales? Forgiveness will certainly lead to habitualwrongdoing.

The humour of this story, and it is meant to be humorous, is inthe exaggeration. The servant owes an unimaginable amount of money.How could he have possibly got into that much debt! If this was thebanking world there would (or should) be internal inquiries aboutthe checks and balances for the traders. The fellow slave oweslittle in comparison and Matthew's Gospel is putting the twotogether in this exaggerated way to raise a smile. Jesus wantedpeople to smile as the challenge pierces them to their heart.Clever stuff. A good story does this for us. It puts a complexmoral question into a simpler framework, a cartoon world, so thatthe principle is revealed. We are surely in debt to God for anunimaginable amount, and there is no way any one can be that muchin debt to us, so our only way of dealing with others is byforgiving them.

A phrase may stand out in all this - "out of pity". Theforgiveness is not based in a balance of justice; in the fairnessthat we longed for as children. It is simply out of pity.Compassion for the other that overwhelms us, forces us to action. Apity fuelled by the recognition and thus the gratitude that we oweso much.

To Ponder

  • It is hard, but who do you need to forgive at the moment? Trynot to run away from the feeling of how difficult it is. Stay withthe discomfort!
  • It is also hard, but how are you in debt to God and to others?Stay with that to and let the sense of humble gratitude shine onthe hardness of forgiveness. 
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