21 Peter came up to the Lord and asked, “How many times should I forgive someone who does something wrong to me? Is seven times enough?”
22 Jesus answered:
Not just 7 times, but 77 times! 23This story will show you what the kingdom of heaven is like:
One day a king decided to call in his officials and ask them to give an account of what they owed him. 24As he was doing this, one official was brought in who owed him 50,000,000 silver coins. 25But he didn't have any money to pay what he owed. The king ordered him to be sold, along with his wife and children and all he owned, in order to pay the debt.
26The official got down on his knees and began begging, “Have pity on me, and I will pay you every cent I owe!” 27The king felt sorry for him and let him go free. He even told the official that he did not have to pay back the money.
28But as this official was leaving, he happened to meet another official, who owed him 100 silver coins. So he grabbed the man by the throat. He started choking him and said, “Pay me what you owe!”
29The man got down on his knees and began begging, “Have pity on me, and I will pay you back.” 30But the first official refused to have pity. Instead, he went and had the other official put in jail until he could pay what he owed.
31When some other officials found out what had happened, they felt sorry for the man who had been put in jail. Then they told the king what had happened. 32The king called the first official back in and said, “You're an evil man! When you begged for mercy, I said you did not have to pay back a cent. 33Don't you think you should show pity to someone else, as I did to you?” 34The king was so angry that he ordered the official to be tortured until he could pay back everything he owed. 35That is how my Father in heaven will treat you, if you don't forgive each of my followers with all your heart.
Very often we respond to others in ways we have been treated. When someone is kind to us we are more apt to be kind to others. If someone gets mad at us, we are likely to be in a poor mood and pass on anger to others. The truth is we reflect how we perceive we are being treated. In this parable the man who refused to forgive showed a greater lack than just financial poverty, he lacked pity. When the king forgave his large debt because he did not have the resources, he extended to him a very large investment of pity. He should have been rich in forgiveness and pity since he had received so much.
When he met his fellow official, he refused to extend pity to the other. Even though so much forgiveness had been extended to him he refused to “pay it forward.” In essence he kept his pity to himself. He had all the resources needed to pay back pity to his friend, but he refused. He was therefore imprisoned not for his poverty and lack, but for his greed in refusing to share what he had plenty of.
It’s very easy to take for granted the mercy, pity and forgiveness which God has so lavishly poured out on us, and refuse to extend that grace to others. We think we’ve forgiven enough. After all how many times does God expect us to forgive others? Probably not quite as many times as he has had to forgive us.
Giving and forgiving God, You have poured your blessings upon us. May we take from the vast resources of kindness you have extended to us and share your goodness with others that your name may be praised throughout the earth. We ask in Jesus’ name, Amen.