February 22, 2017

Echoes of God’s Forgiveness

Matthew 18:21-35

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

—  Ephesians 4:32

The story in this parable seems almost impossible to imagine. Why would anyone who has just been forgiven a million-dollar debt refuse to forgive a debt of a few dollars? It doesn’t make sense.

Consider, though, how hard it can be for us to forgive others. How long have we held a grudge against someone, even for a simple mistake? Or how about refusing to forgive someone for saying something that hurt you—perhaps so long ago that you can’t remember what they said? Or maybe the offense was more serious. Perhaps a spouse betrayed you, a coworker lied and got you fired, a parent abused you, or a bully made life miserable for you.

Only the grace of God makes it possible to forgive people who sin against us. Only when we begin to realize how much God has forgiven us in Christ can we learn to forgive.

A Facebook post told the story of a basketball coach, Monty Williams, whose wife was killed by an erratic driver, leaving him a single parent with four children. At the memorial service he urged the people there to pray for the driver and talked to them about the importance of forgiveness. He understood the words of the apostle Paul, that we are to forgive each other just as in Christ God has forgiven us.

As Christians, we are called to be echoes of God’s forgiveness. Are you living that way?

Father, thank you for forgiving us each day. Teach us how to forgive, because of Jesus. Amen.

About the author — Arthur J. Schoonveld

Rev. Art Schoonveld is a retired minister in the Christian Reformed Church. Before retiring in 2001, he served churches in California, Illinois, and Michigan. Since his retirement he has worked part-time for the denomination and has served as an interim pastor. Art and his wife, Anita, have four children and nine grandchildren.

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