Monday, October 01, 2007

The seventy-times-seven principle

Grand Sweep Daily Reading: Matthew 18, 19, 20

Matthew 18:32-35 (NIV)

32 Then the master called the servant in. “You wicked servant,” He said, “I canceled 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 turned 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 from your heart.”

Good morning!

Ouch! It’s bad enough that I have to forgive my brother Lord, but from way down in the depths of my heart! Say its not so! I can tell you that, from time to time, my self-righteous indignation has gotten me into big-time trouble with the Lord. It sounds easy to forgive, but just how easy is it? What does Jesus mean when He says we must forgive seventy times seven times?

Have you ever signed a promissory note or borrowed money from someone? Maybe you’ve bought a car or house that required you sign a promissory note indicating your intention to repay the money you’ve borrowed from the lender for the property you are purchasing. Car notes can run upwards of seven years now. It is a long time to pay for a vehicle that might wear out before you’ve paid it off. Mortgages may run 30-40 years, almost half a lifetime. With every good intention, we take on financial debt to guarantee a place where our family can live comfortably. What happens when a sudden illness or job loss occurs and you can no longer afford to pay for the things you’ve promised to pay?

My sister and I used to fight a lot when we were younger. We did not get along, especially in our formative years. Of all the things I regret in life, how I wish I could go back and erase some of that sibling rivalry from our childhood. It doesn’t matter today who said what to whom. It took me forty-eight years to figure out that our sisters and brothers can be a rich blessing, supporting one another throughout our lives, even when they don’t see eye to eye. We can agree to disagree and still love each other in spite of our differences. Those childish things we used to do to irritate each other somehow need to be set aside, wiped away, and forgotten. It is really hard to completely forgive someone when we refuse to forget their hurtful words or behavior, If I cannot find it in my heart to completely forgive my own family for things said and done in anger a long time ago, how in the world will I ever learn how to forgive a stranger, a co-worker, or even a fellow church member?

We become indebted to the Lord when we recognize our sin for what it is. We bear the scars of our not-so-happy attitudes etched upon our hearts and in our minds. We need to somehow wipe the slate clean, to undergo supernatural heart surgery to remove the painful scars that have left us set in our ways. There just isn’t anything I can do to change what has already occurred. Only a master lender can forgive the kind of debt I’ve accumulated in my life. He created me for a special purpose, hoping I would somehow find a way to return to Him interest one day. Still, I’ve made so many mistakes, not only in my check book, but in life’s checks and balances, that without His complete forgiveness, returning to Him one day would be truly impossible.

This is why Jesus came. He came to pay our indebtedness, once and for all, at Calvary. He offers us a chance to wipe the slate clean with the people we’ve hurt along the way. He can heal the hearts of sisters and brothers who bicker and bear resentment toward each other. He can restore right relationships between parents and siblings, with His amazing seventy times seven principle. If you have experienced grace and forgiveness at the foot of the cross, can you not find it in your heart to forgive the mistakes of those who have hurt you?

If you are living in daily torment, you are most likely living with unforgiveness in your heart. Seek forgiveness for the hurtful words you have said, and choose to forgive and forget the ones who have hurt you. They may not be willing to forgive you just yet, and maybe they never will. Peace comes when we choose to obey God’s Word. Don’t worry about your brother. Leave the rest to the Lord. True forgiveness is freedom! It is like taking in a breath of fresh, clean air, after being locked in a musty-smelling room. It is the warm and comfy feeling we experience after taking a nice hot shower on a cold winter’s night. It is the clean and fragrant smell of a beautiful garden outside, after a refreshing spring shower. There is nothing better than knowing all your debts have been forgiven and wiped away forever.

To return love for hate, right for wrong, and mercy for retribution, is to move one step closer toward Jesus Christ. Won’t you walk the narrow path with me and forgive your brother today?

Grace and peace,

Deb Spaulding

Faith UMC - St. Charles, MO

Pray for: forgiveness. What we cannot do by ourselves, God through Christ can do in and for us. He can restore our hearts to a right relationship with Him and all those around us if we will just ask Him to help us apply the seventy-times-seven principle to our lives.


© Copyright 2007, Deb Spaulding

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