by Ryan Duncan
Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. – Romans 12:17-18
In a perfect world, Christians would be people without any disagreements. Unfortunately this isn’t a perfect world, it’s a fallen one, and even the Church sees its share of conflict between members. Pastors argue, Churches split, and professed Christians hold grudges against their brothers and sisters. This last one is something I particularly struggle with. A few years ago I was in a really bad place; I was feeling hurt and angry because of something some other Christians had said to me.
When I finally confided this to one of my friends, I can remember saying,
“I just hate them so much.”
It wasn’t until later that I learned the disciple Peter had been in a similar situation. Look at what Jesus said to him,
Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?" Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times. – Matthew 18:21-22
But Jesus didn’t stop there, he continued by telling the parable of the Servant and the Master. It begins with a kind man who dismisses his servant’s enormous debt,
"But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii. He grabbed him and began to choke him. 'Pay back what you owe me!' he demanded. "His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, 'Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.' "But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. When the other servants saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed and went and told their master everything that had happened. "Then the master called the servant in. 'You wicked servant,' he said, 'I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn't you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?' In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed. "This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart." – Matthew 18:28-35
As Christians, we are commanded to forgive those who wrong us. Not just because God wants us to love one another, but because he first loved us.
Intersecting Faith and Life: Is there anyone in your life you are struggling to forgive? Remember the parable of the King and his servant.