Matthew 18:23 —– Therefore the kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants.
The king represents God, of course, and the accounts correspond to our sins. We are totally unable to pay for our sins. Even selling ourselves into slavery would pay only a small fraction of the debt. We can’t work our way out of this one. We can’t pay our debt, but if we ask for mercy, God will give us more than we ask. That’s what the kingdom of God is like.
Yet do we have a totally accurate understanding of God’s grace? Or do we ask for mercy, and still believe that we could do something to pay up the debt? Do we truly believe we are forgiven just by asking and believing in the Word of God or do we believe that we will be forgiven only if we do some kind of penance?
Yet God forgives us anyway, even if we don’t understand how sweeping His forgiveness really is. The better we understand that we are forgiven, the better we can forgive others.
Forgiveness does not mean that we pretend like nothing ever happened. It does not mean trusting a swindler with money or trusting a wife-beater to not get abusive again. However, forgiving means that we do not harbour grudges, we do not seek vengeance. It means letting go of our need to get even. It means praying for our enemies. It means seeing ourselves in their shoes, knowing that God has, for the sake of Christ, forgiven us all our sins too. No grovelling required. God does not want us to sin again, but His mercy lasts forever.
God wants us to forgive, and He knows that it’s hard. He wants us to obey Him in everything, and He knows that we don’t. That’s why our salvation does not depend on our performance, but on the righteousness of Christ.
God wants us to forgive others because he forgives us. He forgives us far more generously than 77 times. The point is that we are to realize our need for mercy, look to Him for mercy, depend on His mercy, and instead of harboring our hurts and nursing our grievances, we need to ask Him to help us begin to forgive others. In this world of sin and ignorance, offenses are inevitable. We’ve all been hurt. So, what’s the worst thing that has happened to you? What resentment do you carry?
For our own good, we need to let our resentments go. Jesus will help us—that’s something worth praying about!
“God always seeks us out; He always is near to us. But many times we look the other way because we don’t want to talk with the Lord or encounter him.” – Pope Francis