Freely Forgiven, Freely Forgive


In the adult Sunday School class at our church, we're studying Jesus's parables. This week's parable was “The ungrateful servant” from Matthew 18. The topic is, of course, forgiveness. The passage begins with Peter asking Jesus how many times he had to forgive someone. In response, Jesus tells the parable of a servant who was forgiven an unimaginable debt and who immediately refused forgive the much smaller debt he was owed.

The meaning of the parable is found in verse 33, “Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow slave, in the same way that I had mercy on you?” Jesus's answered Peter's question by telling him that he should forgive his brother as freely as he himself had been forgiven by God. The passage then ends with a warning:

"And his lord, moved with anger, handed him over to the torturers until he should repay all that was owed him. My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart" (Matthew 18:34-35, NASB).

This warning coupled with the warnings that follow the Lord's Prayer in Matthew 6 have often troubled me. In Matthew 6:14-15 Jesus says:

"For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions."

How are we to understand the very...



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