Our scripture this week is Matthew 18:21-35.

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?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times. Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold was brought to him. 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. At this the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go. 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. His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’ But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened. Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed. This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”

Jesus teaches that there will be consequences for those who do not forgive. In His lesson the king tells the wicked servant “shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?” This is not a request but a requirement.

Accepting God’s forgiveness obligates us to treat our brothers and sisters in the same manner. Forgiveness doesn’t mean we condone bad behavior, however it does mean we have a responsibility to show kindness and offer them the opportunity to change. We must reconnect with them.

Mending our relationship with God requires us to also repair our relationship with each other. We can’t love God and hate our neighbor. The forgiveness Jesus teaches is the way we begin loving the whole world.

Wise and wonderful God, we are grateful that You forgive when we have done wrong. Help us to forgive each other that we may live together in Your love. Amen.

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