“Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven,”
Gulp! Yes, forgiveness in any form can be a hard pill to swallow. But, let me ask you this. How many times has God ever said no to us whenever we sought healing and restoration for the wrongs we have done? Exactly, He hasn’t!
Forgiveness, much like love, is nothing to be played with. It is not a lip service to please others rather, it is a heart service to the Lord. It is, in a sense, showing to others the same grace and mercy that God showed toward us.
Immediately following this verse, so that there were no misconceptions about the seriousness of this point that He was making, Jesus sealed it with a story of one who showed mercy and offered forgiveness and one who didn’t:
“Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants.
And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents.
But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made.
The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.
Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt.
But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellowservants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest.
And his fellowservant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.
And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt.
So when his fellowservants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done.
Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me:
Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee?
And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him.
So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.” – Matthew 18:23-25
The seriousness of it all really comes to light when Jesus opens up the parable and comparing it to the kingdom of heaven. Now, why did He go and do that? Because the story He is about to tell so resembles what occurs in the spiritual realm that it would be easy for the people to relate to.
What would happen if today God sat down and “took account” of all the wrongs we have done? What would it be like if we stood before Him unable to pay what we owe? We were there! Jesus knew the predicament that humanity was in. He knew that man could never get himself out of the debt of sin, so here He stresses grace, mercy and compassion on those who don’t deserve it.
How often have we withheld those three precious gifts from another because our feelings were hurt? Believe it or not, it’s the same thing. We may not have choked out a man, demanding retribution, but if we are withholding the same mercies that God showed us then we are choking that man or woman spiritually and emotionally.
“But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses,” (Matthew 6:15). God will not allow us to act like that unjust servant. Love has compelled Him to shower us with love, at all cost to save us, just so that He could forgive us and restore us. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life,” (John 3:16).
It was an act of love. An act of love that we now have the responsibility to pay it forward to another. No, people may not deserve it. But, then again, neither did we. It was only through the eyes of a merciful God that we are given another chance.
Tell me, who in your life deserves that second or third or whatever the number may be, chance today? Forgiveness IS NOT EASY! But, it is an “Act of Love.”
490, of course, is not a definite number. It’s a symbol that we are to be unlimited in our willingness to forgive the offence of others against us. It is the same love; the same “Act of Love” that God showed us. We have been loved to the point of forgiveness and we called to love in the same way.
The Bible tells us, “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us,” (Romans 5:8, KJV). I guarantee, if we were to look at ourselves, we could not fathom how many times our accounts would have gone unpaid had it not been for the blood of Christ. More than 490 times? But, thank God, He acted in love to save to us!