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“Lord how many times must we forgive someone when they sin against us, seven times?” Jesus answers that question in Matthew 18 with “Not seven, but seven times seventy!” So, we should forgive someone 490 times? The “literalist” will start keeping an accurate record, so that when 490 times of forgiving someone is reached, we no longer have to forgive that person. Is that how many times God will forgive us? I truly hope not as I would have used those up by the time I hit my early 20’s!

The Lord wanted to make sure we understood what He was saying, so He tells a parable about the Kingdom of Heaven. Note that this is not just any parable, but one about God’s interactions with us. The King (God) wants to settle accounts and a servant comes before Him who owes 10,000 talents. It has been said that one talent was equal to 15 years of wages for a laborer in those days. This is a debt that is totally impossible to ever pay off. Yet, the man begs the King to give him more time to pay the debt. The King could have said, “Yeah, right. Just how do you plan to do that?” But instead, He has great mercy and forgives the entire debt. That is a very accurate picture of the Lord’s forgiveness of us with our impossible debt of sins.

But the parable continues as the man who has been forgiven so much runs into a fellow servant who owes him 100 denarii. One denarius is said to equal one day’s work for a laborer in those days. This servant says the exact same words that the other man said to the King, asking for more time to pay the debt. This debt could have been paid off over time, but the one who was forgiven much has this man thrown into prison! When the King learns of this, He throws the wicked servant into prison until his debt is paid, which of course is never. The parable ends with these convicting words:

“This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.” (Matthew 18:35)

Think about all that the Lord has forgiven you. For me, it is mind boggling! We could never pay God what we owe Him: NEVER. When we ask for His mercy and His forgiveness, He freely gives it to us. How can we dare not forgive our fellow human beings when they sin against us? It clearly is not 490 times that we must forgive, but it is ALWAYS.

Perhaps one of the most condemning things we could ever say is “I will never forgive ________ for what they said or did!” May those words never come out of our mouths or be in our thoughts! But, if you have already said these words, then ask our Lord to forgive you and then forgive that person, asking the Lord to help you with this forgiveness.

As the photo says: To forgive or not to forgive, the choice is ours! To forgive brings us into the Light, to not forgive brings us into darkness. May we choose wisely!