Sunday, February 27, 2011

Give As You Have Received

My last blog was about receiving God's grace and forgiveness, and recognizing that it is a gift because we don't deserve it. While that is true, I felt it necessary to point out that just as we received, and continue to receive this undeserving gift, we must also remember to give it to others. God takes this very seriously; In fact, there is a story in the Bible where Jesus speaks about this very subject when Peter asks Him how many times he should forgive others. His response is in Matthew 18:21-35,

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 times seven." Jesus continued by saying, "Therefore, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand talents (millions of dollars) was brought to him. Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt. The servant fell on his knees before him and said, 'Be patient with me,' he begged, 'and I will pay back everything.' The servant's master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go. But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii (a few dollars). 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 the heart."

When I read this, I was amazed at how quickly the servant in the story forgot the mercy and forgiveness he was shown. It says that right after he left his master's presence he punished his servant for the very same thing he was guilty of, and even though this servant begged for mercy, he threw him in prison!

If someone comes to you asking for forgiveness, in my opinion, give it to them. I believe we look at the severity of what someone has done, and then decide whether or not they deserve our compassion. But who are we to decide that when our sin is no different then theirs? I think we should always be willing to extend the same kindness we have been shown, remembering that because of God's unmerited favor, we aren't getting what we really deserve.

I personally understand that there are people who intentionally hurt us, and don't seem to care for whatever reason. While I am not trying to say that we should just overlook bad behavior, I am not going to join them in their misery by having an "eye for an eye" attitude, or live my life with a chip on my shoulder because of someone's bad attitude toward me. I would rather let their consequences be up to God, and do what He wants me to do, which is to show the same compassion, grace, love and mercy that He has given to me. It's not easy and almost impossible to do if you keep your focus on the circumstance or the person who has wronged you, but if you keep your eyes on Him who loved you enough to not even spare His own Son, then all things are possible. Thanks be to God for His never ending love!

Have a great day everyone and remember to walk in love and speak in peace.