“Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?”
—Matthew 18:33 NIV
In Matthew 18 Jesus tells the story of a servant who was forgiven an astronomical debt, but later refused to forgive a much smaller amount owed to him by a fellow servant. The other servants, saddened by what had happened, went and explained the situation to their master. In response the king angrily called the servant and said, “Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?”
The proper response to God’s forgiveness is to forgive others. In fact, Jesus explained, “But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins” (Matthew 6:15 NIV).
Those are strong words.
But if we think about it, when we refuse to forgive someone we are putting ourselves on the throne of the Supreme Judge and declaring that we know better than God, who died to forgive that person’s sins.
And we cannot declare that Jesus is our Lord and at the same time try to supplant his throne.
It is important to know that forgiveness does not involve excusing the wrong that another has done to us, but simply leaving judgment to the one and only Judge.
When we forgive others, we find rest from the hard work of being everyone’s judge and free ourselves to live the abundant life that Jesus offers us.
Here is a short prayer to carry with you today:
Breathe in: God, you are the Judge.
Breathe out: I am not.