Many people have asked, “Do I really have to forgive everyone for everything? I really think some things are just too bad to forgive!” To answer this question, let’s have a look at one of our Lord’s parables (slightly updated for our young people).
A king once decided to settle his accounts with all his servants. There was one servant who owed him $100 billion. When the king saw that he could not pay his debt back, he ordered that the servant, his wife, and his children be sold into slavery, and that all his possessions should be sold to pay back the debt. The servant fell down at the king’s feet crying and begging him, “Your Majesty, please be patient with me, and I will pay back everything!” Seeing the poor servant cry, the king felt sorry for him, and instead of giving him more time to pay off his debt, he said to the servant, “I forgive you the debt. You don’t owe me anything.” And he released him.
Later that day, the same servant found another servant who owed him $10. He grabbed him by the throat and shouted in his face, “Pay me back what you owe me!” The other servant fell down at his feet crying and begging him, “Please be patient with me, and I will pay back everything!” But the servant refused to listen and had the other servant thrown into prison until he could pay him back. Other servants who were standing by saw what happened and knew it wasn’t right. So they went and told the king everything that had happened.
Furious, the king called the servant back to him and said, “You evil servant! I forgave you all that debt, because you begged me for more time! Shouldn’t you have forgiven your fellow servant in the same way that I forgave you?” So he gave the servant to the torturers until he paid back all of what he owed him.
This powerful story shows us that God is willing to forgive us our debts to him, but that we must forgive everyone else their debts against us. Otherwise, God will not forgive us. A debt is something that we owe someone else. If we are going to buy something from someone, we owe them money. If we have hurt someone, we owe them an apology and our help. If people depend on us to do a job, we owe them a job well done.
The debt that we owe to God, we could never pay back even if we lived 100 lifetimes. He created us human beings out of nothing. He takes care of our needs. And even though we have turned our backs on Him many times, He forgives our sins. There are times when people fail to give us what they owe us. But the debts that other people owe us are incredibly small when we consider the enormous debt that we owe to God. God forgives us, and He wants us to forgive one another.
- How many times do you have to forgive someone until you don’t have to forgive them anymore?
- If we have sinned against someone, what should we do for them?
- Name three bad things that can happen to us when we refuse to forgive people.