Forgiveness is Limitless
Forgiveness is Limitless
Peter had been impressed by the Lord’s teaching on reconciliation. He realized that if he were the injured party, he would have to exercise a forgiving spirit. But how often would one be called on to forgive? The rabbis had decided that three times would be forbearance and forgiveness enough. Peter, with a great show of magnanimity, suggested that he forgive seven times. He was reducing love to logic, mercy to mathematics, a matter of spirituality to a matter of arithmetic
I The Compassion-
II The Crime -
He cast his fellow servant into the debtors’ prison. The poor man’s pleas made no impression whatsoever on the creditor’s hard heart.
III The Consequences
When the evil man’s wickedness was brought to the attention of his lord, the king had him arrested at once. “O thou wicked servant,” he said, “I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me: Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee?” (18:32–33) The word translated “wicked” here is ponēros. Ponēros and its synonyms are used in the New Testament to refer to human depravity and the wicked working of our evil nature. The wicked behavior of the unforgiving man revealed his unregenerate heart.
He was forced to face the consequences of his wickedness. The man had no plea, for he knew his case to be hopeless. The new sentence was far worse than the one that had been rescinded. Before he was to have been sold; now “his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him” (18:34).
In human courts of law, previous conviction increases the penalty for a further transgression
The man in the parable was arrested, arraigned, tried, and sentenced not because of his ten-thousand-talent debt, but because of his wicked behavior toward his fellow servant; however, his punishment was made commensurate with what he had once owed. Because of his new sin, he would not be eligible for parole until he paid the equivalent of his former debt. Mercy had been replaced with wrath.
In applying the parable, the Lord showed the seriousness of an unforgiving spirit. “So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you,” Jesus said, “if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses” (18:35). Peter had asked how often he must forgive, and Jesus in effect said to him and us, “You must go on forgiving and forgiving because that is how the heavenly Father forgives.” After all, the transgressions we are called on to forgive are relatively petty when
compared with the enormous transgressions we have asked God to forgive.
The parable shows that an unforgiving spirit reveals an unregenerate heart, and an unregenerate heart eventually lands a person in the place of torment. Why would the Lord tell such a parable to His disciples? One of them had an unregenerate heart; he was a mere pretender and he ended up in perdition. His name was Judas. And why should the parable be told in the local church? The ranks of church members often include some who have never been truly regenerated.