In the television series The Brady Bunch, the six siblings would often squabble, but there was a particular rivalry between Jan and Marcia. At one point, Jan explodes to her parents in frustration and jealousy: “All I hear, all day long at school, is how great Marcia is, or how wonderful that Marcia did that... Marcia! Marcia! Marcia!”
Rivalry among brothers and sisters is not uncommon, and that unfortunately extends within the church to our brothers and sisters in Christ. The Greek word for brother or sister used here (adelphos) refers to a fellow disciple, whether man or woman.
Today’s passage is filled with kingdom advice. Jesus guides us to focus not on our earthly circumstances but on our heavenly goal. And that eternal perspective should lead us to forgive, even when circumstances seem to demand otherwise.
In Jesus’ parable of the unmerciful servant, a king is trying to settle debts with his servants. One man owes him an incredible debt, ten thousand bags of gold. He orders the man to sell everything to repay the debt, but the man begs for mercy: “Be patient with me” (v. 26). The king takes pity on him and cancels his debt.
Being on the receiving end of forgiveness should soften anyone’s heart, but instead the servant turns to another man, who owes a much smaller debt to him, and demands payment. The king heard that this man whom he had just forgiven was now refusing to forgive another’s debt, called him in, and threw him in prison.
How can anyone who has been forgiven so much be unforgiving to others? We cannot set limits on how much we will forgive others, for God has not limited His forgiveness for us.
Do you have siblings you need to forgive, either in your immediate family or brothers and sisters in Christ? Jesus says to forgive not just seven times but seventy times seven. This isn’t a math problem but rather a spiritual lesson: forgiveness should be an extended act of love based on the fact that we are forgiven. Ask God to help you forgive today.
With the Practical Christian Ministry program, our students serve in the Chicago-area churches and ministries. Will you pray for the PCM staff: Catherine Christopher, Donald Martindell, Nathan Strand, Roberto Rivera, and Unity Ostercamp?