May 17, 2023

Forgiven and Forgiving

Mathew 18:21-35

“Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? . . .”

—  Matthew 18:21

Whenever I read Jesus’ parable of the unforgiving servant, my blood begins to boil. I think, “How ungrateful, mean, and greedy this man is. There isn’t a kind bone in his body!” Here was a man who owed more money than he could ever repay. But after he was forgiven of his huge debt, he punished another man for owing him just a small amount. The forgiven man had received mercy, but he did not show mercy to the other man.

It is not wrong to be angry about this. In fact, this is the response Jesus is looking for. But we must not stop there. Jesus designed this story to help us think and act faithfully as children of God. How should we respond to the kindness God has shown us? God has forgiven our huge debt of sin; will we do the same for others who have sinned against us?

It is easy for us to ask for God’s forgiveness and yet carry grudges and ill will toward others. It is easy to remember and resent what others have said and done against us. But if we accept God’s forgiveness and yet fail to forgive others, we are no different from the ungrateful man in Jesus’ parable.

Jesus teaches us to forgive and to keep forgiving so that we can’t remember how many times we have forgiven. When we walk with the Spirit, we are changed. God’s kindness begins to flow from us to others.

Father, thank you for forgiving my sin. Move me to forgive others, showing them the kindness you have shown to me. In Jesus, Amen.

About the author — George Koopmans

George Koopmans has served as an ecumenical chaplain at Medicine Hat College in Medicine Hat, Alberta, since November 2021. Prior to entering into chaplaincy, George served as a pastor to two congregations—one in Minnesota (Luverne), and the other in Medicine Hat. George and his wife, Emily, have four adult daughters and three grandchildren. Hiking, biking, and birdwatching are his favorite hobbies.

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