Read Matthew 18
Focus on verse 21
“Fool me once – shame on you. Fool me twice – shame on me.” I used to have a tendency to be trusting of people. I still like to give most folks the benefit of the doubt, but experience is a persistent teacher. If someone betrays my trust once, I will be less inclined to trust him or her the next time around. I like to think of myself as a person who tries to give people a chance, but I also like to believe that I am not stuck on stupid mode.
In today’s reading the apostle Peter has a question for Jesus.
Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” (v. 21)
Peter’s proposal of seven times seemed quite generous as it exceeded what the Pharisees required by their laws, but Jesus response must have caused all the disciples to do a double take. Jesus tells Peter “not seven times, but seventy times seven times. Jesus may as well have said an infinite number of times since that is what the disciples would have understood Him to mean.
Jesus follows this up with the parable of the unforgiving servant, which you can read in verses 23 – 34. The story is of a servant who owed an impossibly huge debt to a creditor who was calling in the loan. When the servant begged for mercy and more time to pay, the creditor forgave the entire debt. Upon being forgiven, the same servant encounters a fellow servant who owes him an insignificantly small amount. Upon demanding payment this second servant also begs for mercy and a little more time to collect the funds. The first servant refuses choosing to press charges resulting in the second servant going to debtor’s prison. When the first servant’s creditor hears of this he calls the first servant back in and reverses his decision to forgive the huge debt.
Jesus concludes the lesson with the statement,
So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from you heart. (v. 35)
The moral of the story is, if God is willing to forgive me for all the crap I have given Him, I ought to be able to forgive you and anyone else for any stuff you all might have done to me – bottom line being – if I choose not to? He will hold me accountable for everything I owe Him. I don’t know about you, but I owe God way more than anyone I know of owes me. If God is willing to call it even, I’m thinking I got a really good deal!