Tails from the Kingdom of Heaven: Forgiveness

Here is another post from my other blog on August 3, 2005:

This past Friday we discussed the story Jesus told of a servant who received a great amount of mercy from his king, but he could not find the same compassion in his heart to forgive a fellow servant of a much smaller debt. It is recorded in Matthew 18:21 – 35. It comes on the heals of one of Jesus’ followers asking Him how often he should forgive someone who has wronged him.In this story, the first servant owed the king a debt he could never hope to pay back. The king was going to remedy the situation by selling the servant, his family, and all his possessions into slavery in order to recover at least a portion of the debt. The first servant pleaded for mercy. The king had compassion on the servant and cancelled his debt.After this the servant went to a fellow servant and demanded repayment of a much smaller debt. When the second servant asked for more time the first servant refused to forgive his fellow servant. Instead, he had the second servant thrown in prison until his debt could be repaid.When the king heard about this he cancelled his pardon of the first servant and had him thrown in prison until his much larger debt could be repaid. Given the size of the debt the first servant owed he was condemned to prison for life.Reading this story reminds me of a scene from Schindler’s List. Oscar Schindler is having a discussion with the commandant of the concentration camp about power. To the commandant, his power over the Jews was based in their fear of him randomly shooting them from the balcony of his chateau. Schindler challenges him with a different view of power. “Power is having the right to shoot and choosing not to.”The story Jesus told shows me the centrality of forgiveness in the Kingdom of God. God shows a great amount of mercy and compassion to us. It should produce a deep level of compassion and forgiveness in us toward others. God is more justified than any of us in showing wrath, yet it seems His greatest wrath is toward those who cannot find a place for compassion and grace toward others in their hearts.During our closing time, we pondered this question: Does God’s compassion and mercy toward you produce the same response toward others or does it produce pride?

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