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.”

When we are forgiven, we are blessed with relief and restoration. It is the same blessing when we forgive others. Jesus teaches that not forgiving means carrying an unnecessary burden of resentment and conflict that could be lifted by forgiving the one who wronged us.

Sometimes we think “but that lets them off the hook, why should I forgive them when they were wrong?” Imagine if Jesus thought this way! Why should our sins be forgiven when we were wrong?

Jesus knows the truth – He is the Truth – and He teaches us that love and forgiveness destroy the power of wrong. In our human desire for others to “get what’s coming to them” we must realize that also means getting what’s coming to us! Jesus tells us to drop our grievances by forgiving and loving as God does, and enter His kingdom.

Gracious God, we don’t deserve the blessing of Your mercy and forgiveness, but You offer it anyway. Help us to forgive from our hearts, giving up the hate and the wound we all carry. Amen.

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