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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Power of Forgiveness

Today I’m reading Matthew 18:21-35.

Then Peter came to him and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?”
“No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven!
“Therefore, the Kingdom of Heaven can be compared to a king who decided to bring his accounts up to date with servants who had borrowed money from him. In the process, one of his debtors was brought in who owed him millions of dollars. He couldn’t pay, so his master ordered that he be sold—along with his wife, his children, and everything he owned—to pay the debt.
“But the man fell down before his master and begged him, ‘Please, be patient with me, and I will pay it all.’ Then his master was filled with pity for him, and he released him and forgave his debt.
“But when the man left the king, he went to a fellow servant who owed him a few thousand dollars. He grabbed him by the throat and demanded instant payment.
“His fellow servant fell down before him and begged for a little more time. ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it,’ he pleaded. But his creditor wouldn’t wait. He had the man arrested and put in prison until the debt could be paid in full.
“When some of the other servants saw this, they were very upset. They went to the king and told him everything that had happened. Then the king called in the man he had forgiven and said, ‘You evil servant! I forgave you that tremendous debt because you pleaded with me. Shouldn’t you have mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you?’ Then the angry king sent the man to prison to be tortured until he had paid his entire debt.
“That’s what my heavenly Father will do to you if you refuse to forgive your brothers and sisters from your heart.”

I'm reading Margaret Feinberg's book "wonderstruck." Today's thoughts are about forgiveness - such an important topic for this Holy Week. Enjoy her writing today.


For a brief moment, I imagine the disciples admiring the audacity of Peter’s question and the apparent piousness of his suggested answer. Seven isn’t only generous but also representative of the idea of completeness initiated during the seven days of creation.

But Peter’s math is off. Though forgiving seven times may seem generous to rabbis, the number is only a fraction of what’s required. When it comes to pardoning sins, Jesus calls us to exponential living. How many times is forgiveness required? Seventy times seven – more than anyone feels like offering and more than anyone wants to track. Jesus gave his disciples more than just a number, but a new way of life…In essence, Jesus says, “Forgive wholly, and you will find yourself whole; forgive completely, and you will find yourself complete.”

…Reflecting on Jesus’ response to Peter, I realized I had become indifferent to the wonder of forgiveness and the incalculable debts God had forgiven me. My failure to forgive signaled that I had let go of the priceless treasure of god in my life. I had lost sight of the God who paints unspeakable beauty in the sky for people who neither deserve nor appreciate his work. I needed to be wonderstuck by forgiveness and grasp the grace of God again. 

The wonder of forgiveness invites us to live alert to the work of God among us. 

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