by Mike Raiter

Day 42

Read Matthew 18:15-35

How do we pastorally care for those who are spiritually straying? Jesus instructs us on how to restore someone who has sinned (vv. 15-20,) and then teaches us about the importance of forgiving anyone who sins against us.

Forgiven sinners must forgive those who come to them for forgiveness

In order to demonstrate that our forgiveness should be as unlimited as God's forgiveness to us (vv. 21-22), Jesus tells a parable about a servant who owes his king an incredible debt of 10,000 talents, which would be equivalent to about 200,000 years' wages. In other words, it is an infinite debt, just as our debt of sin against God is infinite. Then, out of deep compassion, the king freely cancels the debt.

Salvation is all of grace; there is nothing anyone can do to earn it. Yet, as Jesus has repeatedly warned, while God does not set any conditions on sinners receiving His forgiveness, He does expect those forgiven to now live lives of faithful obedience. Salt must be tasty. Light must shine. A good tree will bear good fruit. Forgiven sinners must forgive those who come to them for forgiveness.

The forgiven servant refuses forgiveness to someone who, in comparison to his debt to the king, owes him a tiny sum. His hard-heartedness defies belief.

This man made two mistakes: he forgot the amazing grace of God, and he forgot there would be a day of judgment. In the parable, he stands before his king a second time, who now hands him over to the jailers (or literally, ″torturers″) ″until he should pay back all he owed″ (v. 34)-his punishment will last as long as the repayment of his debt takes. Since it is impossible to repay such a huge amount, his punishment will last for all eternity. As Jesus said, ″Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven″ (Matthew 7:21).

God's will is that we forgive one another, and Jesus' disciples hunger and thirst to do His will. This parable asks us two questions. Do we appreciate the cross, the amazing grace of God's free forgiveness? Do we anticipate the coming judgment? Gratitude for grace and fearful obedience will keep us persevering.

Think through:

What is your experience of the amazing grace of God?

Forgiving someone who has wronged us and hurt us can be very difficult. How in practical terms, can we reach a point of genuine forgiveness?




About Author

Mike Raiter is a preacher, preaching trainer and former Principal of the Melbourne School of Theology in Australia. He is now Director of the Centre for Biblical Preaching and the author of a number of books, including Stirrings of the Soul, which won the 2004 Australian Christian Book of the Year award.

Author of Journey Through Series:

Our Daily Bread Journey Through® Series is a publication of Our Daily Bread Ministries.

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