Contributor: Ryan Moffat, BS in Bible and Theology from Multnomah University. Pastor of Vast Church.
“Lord how often should I forgive someone?”
This is the question that a simple fisherman named Peter asked Jesus in the gospel according to Matthew (Matthew 18 to be precise). Good question if you ask me! I always find myself wondering; “doesn’t their come a certain point where we can write somebody off and just take the ‘they’re dead to me’ perspective? Aren’t some people so damaging and broken that we should just hold them as condemned for life?”
Jesus came to restore all of life and how we deal with conflict and relational hurt is one of the paramount issues Jesus came to deal with. After Peter asked this great question, Jesus answers by telling a story. It’s a story about a King with a ton of servants who are indebted to him.
Debt to a King
In fact, one of the servants had a debt of one million dollars to this King. How is an uneducated, poor servant going to repay this King? The answer is given in verse 27, “The master was filled with pity for him, released him and forgave his debt.”
The only way this man could have the debt fulfilled was to have the debt released. What an incredible act of grace right? Well, apparently it didn’t last long because the story goes on that as the recently forgiven servant leaves, he too runs into a man who owes him far less (a few thousand dollars) and the text tells us that he (the servant) “grabbed him by the throat and demanded payment.”
What a transition! From being forgiven $1,000,000 debt to demanding another to pay a $2,000 debt. As readers we’re appalled (as we should be). We can’t believe it, how can this evil, ungrateful servant possibly get away with this?
The King hears about this and brings his servant back and asks the question; “shouldn’t you have had mercy and forgiveness on the man who owed you just as I had mercy on you?” The servant has no response….he is caught as a man who has been ETERNALLY forgiven but holds others “ULTIMATELY CONDEMNED”.
Jesus says this kind of attitude (to accept grace of others and offer it to no one) is incongruent to the gospel. Jesus would say this kind of attitude and belief system is out of sync with the good news Jesus came to announce. The story tragically ends with the Jesus telling Peter; “That’s what our Heavenly Father will do to you if you fail to forgive your brothers and sisters from your heart.”
Forgive from the Heart
Forgiveness from the heart is transactional…it’s a release of the power of the hurt; it’s a release from the punishing/accusing thoughts, feelings and emotion over the relationship.
It’s a refusal to protect yourself as “right” and the other as “wrong”. It’s a disposition of the mind and the heart that prioritizes reconciliation over being “right”.
Peter wanted to talk about how the minimum amount he could do relationally and still be okay with Jesus; meanwhile, Jesus wanted to talk about the greatest act of forgiveness (divine forgiveness initiated at the cross) as the new resource and reservoir of power, love and grace that can be leveraged in our lives so that we can both forgive and ask for forgiveness from the heart knowing that our greatest “I am sorry” has been dealt with by a great God!
Community Discussion – Share your thoughts here!
Have you struggled with forgiving someone that impacted your sobriety? Or have you struggled with forgiving someone that is suffering from addiction? What steps have you taken toward forgiveness? How has forgiveness impacted you?
About the Author: Ryan received his BS in Bible and Theology and a minor in counseling from Multnomah University. He has pastored students, families and is passionate about Christ-centered recovery and healing. He’s been married to his beautiful wife Michelle for 13 years and they enjoy raising four crazy, unique and special kids together.
Ryan is the teaching pastor at Vast Church in Sisters, OR and is currently working on his Masters in Theology at Western Seminary in Portland, OR
Addiction Hope is proud to announce the initiation of a special Christian Track of blogs and articles to commemorate the blessing of our sister site, Eating Disorder Hope’s 10th year anniversary. Watch for further content noted as “Christian Track”.
The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of addictions. These are not necessarily the views of Addiction Hope, but an effort to offer discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.
We at Addiction Hope understand that addictions result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an addiction, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.
Last Updated & Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on November 11, 2015
Published on AddictionHope.com