Written by Ken and me
Jesus taught a parable in Mathew 18 of a king who called to reckon his servant who owed him an enormous debt of perhaps up to a million dollars in today’s currency. The king commanded him, his wife, children, and everything he had to be sold. The servant threw himself at the feet of his lord and pled for patience and mercy and the king heard his cries, was moved with compassion, and forgave him for all of his debt. But this servant, instead of showing the same grace and mercy extended to him by the king, took his fellow servant by the throat and demanded that he repay the paltry equivalent of five dollars owed to him. In spite of the fellow servant’s pleas for patience and mercy, the one forgiven by the king sent him to prison until he could repay every cent.
You and I who are believers in the Lord Jesus Christ have thrown ourselves at the feet of our King Jesus and begged Him to forgive us our unrepayable debt. Any one sin separates us from God forever; for a holy God is incapable of receiving a sinner at His throne. Doomed and despairing, we pled for mercy and claimed the blood of Christ on our hearts and souls; the blood of the perfect Lamb shed for the sins of the whole world. And God heard our cries, picked us up, and stood us on our feet proclaiming that all our debts were forgiven as He made us brand new creatures in Christ.
Now consider, Christian, your present status in life having been forgiven your enormous debt (ALL of your sins). Does your heart race with thankfulness and joy? Does grace and mercy follow after you, and in turn, do you extend it fully to others all of the days of your life? Or are you refusing to forgive the small debts of others? Do you carry a root of bitterness or anger which are clear signs that you are not forgiving others? Think again just for a moment of the enormity of the debt you owed (your life) and how wide the chasm is between sinful man and a holy Creator God. Think about the bridge God provided for us by giving up His only begotten Son to die a merciless death at the hands of mankind; and then in comparison how small any other debt owed to us must be.
What are you holding against your spouse today? Are you considering divorce? Has he harmed you greatly in some way that you feel you can never forgive him completely again? What about your friend today who has been unkind to you; your fellow worker, your sister, your cousin, your aunt, or your mother-in-law? Which one of these people do you want to hold by the throat and demand that they repay what they owe you as you build up a revenge account filled with unkindness, unloving, bitterness, and unforgiveness? The debts owed you may seem so big, yet in comparison to the great debt forgiven you by your King Jesus, it is not even five dollars.
What is it about us that we feel the need to set straight those who sin against us? I know you are thinking, “I can forgive them with my head, but I need to teach them a lesson. After all, how is my spouse ever going to treat me well, respect me, and love me, if I don’t every once in a while grab him by the neck with my words, moods, and difficult behaviors to put him in his place.” We think this is our job to set others straight, but it is not.
Did God win us by setting us straight or by His immense grace and love? Did He exact from us a certain amount of discipline and punishment before he showered mercy upon us, or did He forgive us freely for everything the moment we believed? God won us over by His great kindness, mercy, and love! God’s Word says,
“Or despise thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leads thee to repentance” (Romans 2:4)
The next time you feel the urge to set another person straight, first consider your own plight of hopelessness before a God who has greatly forgiven you, and then going far beyond this mercy to lovingly adopt you into His own family. He bestowed on you and me all of the riches in Christ Jesus for the eternities to come. It is this Good News, the Gospel, that changes lives. The measure of the degree to which we understand what Christ has done for us is judged by our relationships with others, especially that of our spouse. It’s our responsibility and privilege that we, through Christ Jesus, can forgive all offenses done against us, just as Christ has forgiven us. For when we do so, we are not only showing our love and appreciation for what He has done, but we are allowing His life to flow in and through us.
Someone today will be reading this and is considering how they will respond to the hurt, pain, or disrespect inflicted upon them. Maybe it’s just the extra burdens that their spouse has placed upon them by their carelessness or neglect. Maybe they are in an ongoing fight over something that happened long ago and both sides are playing the game of justifying themselves, while at the same time treating the other with malice and distain. How can unchristian thoughts and actions ever be justified for the Christian?
Of course, all in “righteous anger” and with a purpose to “teach” the other a lesson so that they can mature and grow up into Christ, right? Well, it’s all wrong when we take it upon ourselves to punish another in light of the great punishment God has taken away from us. The Gospel only wins and shows itself out when we display the never-ending love and forgiveness of God. And it loses big time when we fail to forgive and allow a root of bitterness to spring up in us that wreaks havoc on so many lives, most of all our own. We must remember that forgiving is living out the Gospel in our lives.
Christian marriages should be the happiest in the world! We are to be the model of Christ and His Church. Others should be able to look at our marriages, especially the youth of today, and say, “I want to get married because I want a marriage just like that!” Nations are built upon strong marriages that create strong families. You must not allow all the little annoyances and sins against you by your husband to bother you. Forgive him freely. Don’t always feel that you need to set him straight. Your love and kindness will go a lot farther in drawing him to be changed by God than any words or sour moods you could give him (1 Peter 3:1, 2).
Accept others the way they are and forgive them freely. Let God be the One who convicts and changes the people around you. And the next time you get the urge to retaliate or set someone straight, ask yourself if the debt owed to you is truly as enormous as your own, or is it just five little dollars. “Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much” (Luke 7:47). Are you indeed greatly forgiven? If so, let your love shine brightly with joy and forgiveness in your marriage and relationships beginning this day onward to show the enormity of the love you have for God.
If your marriage is not shining God’s love daily, then it is not a Christian marriage. Far too many marriages are made up of two Christians, but do not reflect the glory and love of the Lord. It begins with you doing your part no matter what, that all things done in your home will be according to the Word and the Spirit who lives inside of you. Only then can God bless you above all you could ask or think. Many each year are telling us that they are choosing to do things God’s ways and are reaping His blessings. Will you join us by doing this simple thing of always keeping your great debt in mind and the forgiveness God wants you to extend to others?
Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.
Ephesians 4:31, 32