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Jul 21 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

Day Fifty-three – Matthew 18:21-35

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you

But since he did not have the means to repay, his lord commanded him to be sold, along with his wife and children and all that he had, and repayment to be made. So the slave fell to the ground and prostrated himself before him, saying, “Have patience with me and I will repay you everything.” And the lord of that slave felt compassion and released him and forgave him the debt. Matthew 18:25-27

Jesus told this story to promote compassion. It is relatively easy to show compassion to orphans and refugees in distant places by providing food, shelter, and medical attention. But Jesus takes the issue to a situation that is much more difficult to show compassion–people who are indebted to us and who have sinned against us (vv. 21-22).

Every disciple is already a citizen of God’s kingdom (v. 23). For Jesus, that means if we pause and consider how dependent we are on God’s mercy for all the good things in our lives, our hearts will respond with gratitude toward God and a new attitude toward others.

Me: “Lord, an apology seems like a small thing, yet some people are incapable of producing one.”
Jesus: “True. So do not wait for an apology. Forgive them now and treat them as forgiven.”
Me: “If I forgive others the way You teach, people will keep taking advantage of me.”
Jesus: [smiling as he remembers how it was during his days on earth] “Yes, you are right.”

To not confess our own sin is torture (Ps. 32:3-4; 38:1-8). To not forgive the sins of others is torture (Mt. 18:34).

Although the parable is so transparent we do not need it explained to us, Jesus presses home the point with a clear statement, “My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart” (v. 35). Who suffered greater wrong from enemies and friends than our Lord? Who has a greater claim to justice? Yet who is more forgiving?

Jesus, thank You for Your stories and the way they awaken us to the experience of truth, not just the idea of it. You want to work something into our hearts. Perhaps all we can do is hand You the key and say, ‘Here, Lord, You do it because I cannot.’ Good enough. Do not give up on us until our hearts beat with Your compassion and forgiveness.

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