A re-post about forgiveness…
I’ve been studying Matthew 18:21-35. I find it really helpful to put some modern-day figures on the money involved. Ten thousand talents – let’s call that a hundred billion pounds. A hundred denarii? Let’s call that £5000. I’ve cost Christ a hundred billion and He’s forgiven the debt. My friend has cost me five grand.
Now five grand is not nothing. If you cost me five grand I will be mighty peeved. But only until I remember the hundred billion. And that’s how forgiveness works. It’s always costly. A hundred denarii aint nothing. But first appreciate the hundred billion. Then cancel the five grand.
But here’s where a lot of my problems come from. I refuse to face the damage done to me. I dare not stare it full in the face and say “You robbed me of five grand (or even five million!) and I’m never getting it back.” I don’t feel I have the resources to take such a hit. So instead of facing the loss head on and drawing on my resources in Christ I convince myself that the five grand is not gone for good. It can’t be gone, it’s all I had. So I consider it as an outstanding debt. And I make them pay. In tit-for-tat and slurs and cold shoulders and the mental equivalent of voodoo dolls.
And whilever they are a debtor making repayments, forgiveness is just not an option. I’ve bought into a repayment model and cancelling the debt is unthinkable. But once I face the debt as a straight out loss I can say “Dang, it’s cost me. Now what?” And that’s really the position of us all when we are wronged. The devil loves to tell us – “You haven’t really lost out for good. You can recoup your costs here, let me show you how.” But the devil is a liar. I have lost. It’s gone and it’s not coming back except by the redeeming hand of Christ. But for now I need to appreciate the loss as a loss. A dead loss. Not bruised and battered. Dead. And it can only become gain in the hands of the Lord of Resurrection.
Because once I’ve faced the loss I then realise my options. Bitterness/ hard-heartedness/ revenge is an option which involves its own costs. On the other hand there’s ‘taking pity, cancelling the debt and letting them go’ (Matt 18:27).
The one option I don’t have (and never did have) was recouping the loss. But only once I’ve faced the loss am I able to make the decision that can free me (and them). I’ve lost out and nothing will change that. Now I’ve got to choose how to handle that loss. The devil’s way will cost me dearly. But Jesus says “I know a way of handling this loss that will free you and free them and put you in touch with the power of my cosmic redemption.”
It begins by acknowledging my own debt. Feeling the weight of my hundred billion. Rejoicing in its cancellation. Then facing the loss of the five thousand. This is vital. But it continues in taking pity, cancelling the debt and letting go. In the end the only way to handle the loss is to realise it really is loss.