Forgiveness is a precursor to second chances. Eighty-year-old municipal judge, Frank Caprio, has hundreds of millions of views of his verdicts on YouTube. But it is not his harsh words to criminals that attract audiences, it is the ways he reveals his compassionate heart. With every verdict, Judge Caprio attempts to see the person behind the crime.
Our text today comes on the heels of Jesus’ teaching on church discipline. Peter inquired what to do regarding lesser offenses that require forgiveness. In typical Peter fashion, he asked a question in a way that implied he already knew the answer (v. 21). Typically, Jewish rabbis taught people that they should forgive others three times. Perhaps trying to impress Jesus, Peter suggested forgiveness ought to be given seven times, the perfect number. Jesus’ response of “seventy-seven times” indicated there ought to be no restrictions on the number of times we forgive (v. 22).
Jesus followed with a parable highlighting the generous forgiveness of the king, but it also expanded the perspectives of those who have been forgiven greatly. Even though the servant was forgiven by his master- king for an extraordinary amount, comparable to millions of dollars, he could not extend forgiveness to his fellow servant who owed him a few dollars. Though the servant had been given a second chance, when he had the power to give someone else a second chance, he refused.
We don’t truly realize how much we have been forgiven unless we forgive those who have failed us. Grasping how much we have sinned against God, and His forgiveness toward us, challenges us to give others a second chance, too. When we are unable to forgive, we are not fully grasping the non-restrictive nature of God’s forgiveness.
>> This word may be difficult for us to hear and to act upon. Whom do you need to forgive? While this person may never come to you asking for forgiveness, that does not mean you cannot extend it to them.
We depend on You for hearts of forgiveness toward those who have wronged us. Humble us with the knowledge of what You have forgiven us for and fill us with love for evildoers—even the unrepentant.