Saturday in the Thirteenth Week of Ordinary Time

Matthew 18:21-35

Seventy Times Seven

Today we have another difficult lesson from our Lord, but one that brings great peace and comfort to those who live it.  It’s about forgiveness and how we as a forgiven people have been released to forgive others – and the consequences for not doing so.  I remember an older sister in Christ who told me that withholding forgiveness for others only poisons one’s own soul, and she was right.  (Please note that we are here speaking of personal relations and not how we are to handle matters in the church, which were covered yesterday.)

The account begins with Peter asking the Lord how many times he should forgive his brother, suggesting the generous number of seven.  Jesus responds, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven,” or “seventy-seven times,” depending on translation.  The point is not the number of times, be it 490 or 77, but continued forgiveness.  Then Jesus illustrates his teaching with a parable: A servant owes his master an insurmountable debt.  My Bible notes read that ten thousand talents is today’s equivalent of six billion dollars.  The master demands payment, even the selling of his wife and children.  The servant falls on his knees begging for time that he may pay his master all he owes – an impossible task.  The master forgives him the entire debt out of pity.  Then that same servant goes and finds a fellow-servant who owes him what my Bible notes say would be equal to about $12,000 today, a lot of money but insignificant compared to six billion.  Rather than showing compassion, he even clutches his fellow-servant by the throat, and then has him thrown in prison.  The other servants report this to the master who then condemns the first servant for not showing his fellow-servant the same mercy he had shown to him, and then has him thrown in prison.

We see the obvious hypocrisy in this, but do we apply it to ourselves?  We are those who owe our Father a sum of money we could never repay.  Our sins reach the heights of heaven.  So who are we to hold other people’s sins over their heads?  It is true that Peter’s question and the parable itself speak of “brothers,” but we remember that our Lord pronounced forgiveness from the cross over Jews and Roman soldiers alike, even as he was dying (Luke 23:34).  The parable ends with: “So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”  Inability to forgive others is evidence that we have not experienced God’s forgiveness in our own lives.  Don’t poison your own heart; forgive!

Author: The Reformed Baptist

My name is Stephen Taylor, ordained Baptist minister of eighteen years pastoral experience with a Ph.D. in Historical Theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Better than that, I am married to a godly woman, Karla, who has been very patient with me since 1989. I have two daughters, both of whom I homeschooled for extended periods of time, who became godly young women, and who ran off and married godly young men, all of which is very proper. The oldest daughter has even seen fit to bless me with a grandson and a granddaughter, and my youngest daughter with a grandson, all three of whom are bundles of exceeding joy. As you can see, I am quite blessed. This website is dedicated to helping people grow in the wisdom and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ through the gift of writing that the Lord has given to me. It is specifically about helping His people grow in godliness, the theme you see repeated above. I write devotions with this aim and hope that they might be of some help to God’s people. Full disclosure: I am of a Reformed bent, meaning that my understanding of Scripture is primarily informed by the Reformers and their successors of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. However, as a student of church history and theology, I strive to remain true to that teaching handed down once for all unto the saints through every age of the Church. I like to think of myself as a “catholic” Christian, as the Reformers thought of themselves. At any rate, feel free to read, pray, and contact me if you wish, or correct me if need be. As you can see, I tend to follow the church year. Of course, I make no special claims about these devotions. I know very well that others have written better and plumbed the depths of God’s word with greater insight. But if my musings help someone draw closer to the Lord, well then, I have my reward. Blessings to you and may the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ speak to you that word which He knows you especially need to hear. Grace & peace, Stephen Taylor

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