Monday, July 27, 2009

Relearning Forgiveness

I was thinking about a lot of things today. I almost wrote an entire post concerning why we witness to people - do we do it because we want to be able to draw another tally line next to our name under the "saved" column, or do we do it because we're genuinely broken over the idea that this person will spend eternity in hell?

I think it's easy for us to blur that line, because "all's well that ends well". Saved is saved no matter what your motives for witnessing to them were.

And then this evening I was in a car and one of my brothers "bible on cd" discs was playing. It's one of those rare moments when you already know something but somehow you walk away from hearing it knowing it in a clearer more impacted way.

Samuel L. Jackson was the voice-over for Jesus - it's strange, I know - and my brother liked how he said something so he went back on the tape directing our attention to it. I believe God wanted me to hear it too.

It was the story of the man who owed a great debt to a king, but the man could not pay his debt so the king ordered him put into prison. The man then fell down and begged the king to please have pity on him and he would pay his debt if only the king would be patient with him.
The king then, moved with compassion, forgave the man and completely pardoned the debt.

The forgiven man then went out, and found a man that owed him only a little money and demanded he pay his debt. When he found out that the man could not pay his debt, he then ordered him to be put into prison. The poor man fell to his knees begging for mercy, that he would somehow repay his entire debt if only given more time.

The forgiven man refused and sent the man to prison.

Others saw it and were displeased so they went to the king and reported what they had seen.
The king was very angry and reminded the man that he had been forgiven a great amount, so he should have shown mercy himself to his own debtors. In his anger, the king sent the man away to be punished until such time as his original full debt was paid.
(Story found in Matthew 18:21-35)

For some reason, hearing that story tonight struck me deeply. I think, too easily, that I'm a good person. That when someone wrongs me I will forgive them easily because I'm not the type to hold grudges or because it's just not worth being upset over.
But, just like I mentioned earlier, not everything can be covered with the "all's well that ends well".

God doesn't want me to forgive so I won't be angry. God doesn't want me to forgive because it's not worth fighting about. God doesn't want me to forgive because it was only mildly important to me anyway.

He wants me to forgive because of the blindingly obvious realization that I have been forgiven so very much by so great a King that the mercy I've been shown by Him draws the forgiveness out of me towards others.

And yet another thing... Two weeks ago, on a Sunday, when we attended church the topic of the morning service was about forgiveness, and I confess I thought "Well, this message is for someone else, because I don't have anyone I'm not able to forgive."
The evening service, at a completely different church, was, ironically enough, about forgiveness as well. We got back in the car as my brother jokingly apologized to whoever in the car might possibly be needing to forgive him of something. But even with a double hitter, I assumed the message wasn't for me.

Every message is for me.

It just took a little while for the point to make it all the way home.

So may this be a reminder for my future self - Listen.

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