Sometimes I read things that Christ said and I wonder why pastors (and I am one of them) don’t preach more about the “disturbing” words of Jesus. I read one of those hard things today in the gospel of Matthew. You might recall the parable of the servant who was forgiven by his master of millions and millions of dollars in debt and then turned right around and began to strangle a fellow servant that owed him a few dollars. In the parable the servant who was forgiven of much would not forgive the brother servant of a pittance — and had him thrown in jail.
At the end of the parable the master hears about this and has the former servant arrested and tortured until he could repay the debt — i.e. forever! A rather graphic parable, but to drive the point home Jesus said at the end, “And this is how my Father will treat you if you do not forgive from the heart.” Yikes! Those words are direct and there’s no way to “sermonize” it or dilute it! God’s forgiveness requires that I forgive from the heart! Some people accuse me of being too “merciful” and giving too many second chances to campers, staff, associates, etc. Put it on tombstone: “Dean was too merciful”! What a compliment! I was too soft on people that were bad to me!
I, for one, believe the words of Jesus are faithfully recorded in the gospels. I am convinced that what is written is what He said. I am persuaded that He SAID these words and MEANT WHAT HE SAID. So it leaves me zero opportunity to hold a grudge, write someone off, dismiss an angry friend or relative as not being worth forgiving, etc. Jesus said that I must forgive from my heart. And that means that somehow when I REALLY forgive someone that has wounded me I am displaying sincere gratitude and a new way of living to the One that forgave me of billions in debt! To withhold forgive within my heart destroys the very purpose of why my Master forgave me in the first place — that I might truly become a son of God; evidenced by the way I forgive others.
I have many faults and I still much to learn, and many of you reading this are my superiors in several ways, but I hope that by my actions it’s clear that in my heart I will not hold a grudge or demand justice. On the contrary I plead for mercy.