by Heather Bock
Don’t miss the free Storybook Bible by Rick Warren that I’m giving away below!
Sometimes I struggle to forgive right away. Sometimes grace is hard to conjure. Sometimes anger rises so fast the well-thought-out phrases aren’t there for the taking; in my offense, the quick, biting words come to the surface instead.
Lord, someone might ask, how long do I have to put up with this coworker treating me like this and stealing my clients?
A mother: How long until my child understands not to behave this way toward me?
Someone else: How many times do I have to forgive this person? This has been going on for a whole week!
Jesus’ answer: not just a week, but a week times seventy.
Then Peter came and said to Him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven” (Matt. 18:22).
Jesus illustrated with a story (Matt. 18).
Once upon a time, a slave owed a king more than he could possibly pay back, even if he could live and work 200,000 years with 100% of the money going straight to the king. According to this calculation, we’re talking somewhere around 7 billion dollars in today’s terms. I have no idea how he wracked up so much debt, but I doubt it could have been accomplished legally. He and his family all faced a life of slavery at one word from the king.
The slave bowed himself face first to the ground, begging the king for patience, promising to repay all, as if he could ever earn enough to settle that debt on his own.
Maybe it was the pitiful sight of the man or the impossible promise he made, but something about the slave moved the king’s heart, and right then and there, he forgave him the entire debt.
Perhaps the slave took it into his head that instead of accepting that grace, he would figure out a way to pay the king back somehow. That’s the only explanation I can come up with for what he did next: he searched out another slave, an acquaintance of his, who owed him the modern equivalent of a little less than $12,000.
Now, is $12,000 (four month’s salary) a lot of money? Sure, and especially to a slave. However, it was also .000017% of what he owed the king, or rather, what he used to owe the king. It was 4 months compared to 200,000 years worth of work. In other words, it wouldn’t make much of a dent if he used it to try to return the money to the king.
The other slave also fell on his face, begging for patience. He also promised to repay (and he actually had a chance of doing it). Nevertheless, the first slave was so harsh to the one who owed him money, he had him thrown into prison, a fate that ultimately became his own once the king heard of his lack of mercy.
My community group discussed this parable a few Sundays ago. We discussed the point of the parable: the grace given to the first slave should have made him into a grace-giving man, but it absolutely did not. It seems to me that instead of accepting the grace, he decided he would earn his right standing before the king.
A few days later, my daughter was throwing a fit about something. I was impatient with her behavior, and I didn’t even take the time to really learn why she was wailing. I just wanted her to stop and get back to her homeschooling work.
I walked away, removing myself from the aggravating sound. However, another sound followed me: a still, small Voice that I could have pretty easily ignored. It said, Remember the grace I gave you? Remember the parable from Sunday? What are you going to give to this young one of yours?
The comparison was clear, and it softened my impatient, hard heart. Have patience with me, the slaves had begged. Would I have patience with my daughter? It became even more clear once I turned back out of my room, knelt down with my sobbing girl, wrapped my arms around her, and patiently let her cry it all out into my shoulder. I asked her to tell me all about it, letting go of my assumptions for her tears. It was then I learned that her sin was minuscule. Her tears were less about defiance and selfishness as I had thought and more about sorrow over what she judged was a breach in her relationship with me. Talk about $12,000 vs. $7 billion–it felt more like $2 vs. $7 billion.
I held her; I comforted her; I repaired breaches made more by me than by my eight year old.
I grieve at how close I was to missing that. Pain would have remained in my precious girl’s heart if I had kept my own heart hard, if I had ignored that Voice, if I had continued to assume her past offenses were what made up her present. A small rip between us might have begun.
Will you listen to that Voice with offenses given to you? Will you forgive not just seven times, but seventy times seven? You’ll need God’s help to do it, I can assure you, but I believe you will be glad you did.
Drawings for NIV Faithgirlz Backpack Bible and Rick Warren’s God’s Big Plans for Me Storybook Bible
I’m sorry to say that I couldn’t get a hold of Laura Bon to give her the FaithGirlz Bible she won, so I drew a new name. The new winner is Alive for Jesus. Please email me at heather.bock[at]glimpsesofjesus.com with your address so I can send the Bible to you! If I don’t hear from you within a week, I will draw yet another name. Thank you!
I have another drawing going on right now for God’s Big Plans for Me Storybook Bible written by Rick Warren. I will announce the winner of that one on Saturday!
If you’d like to enter in my drawing for this free Bible (normally retailing at $17.99):
- Click the button “follow” in the place under my picture (top right of a computer and way down below the comments on a phone) where it says, “Follow Blog Via Email.” Once you hit the button, it should give you a place to type in your email address. You may have to follow up with an email sent to you to fully subscribe, so check your spam folder if it doesn’t arrive in your inbox.
- Please notify me in a comment of your name so I will know who to congratulate if you win!
To earn more entries, or if you’re already following my blog,
- Share this post via social media. Each share to a different social media venue earns you one entry (up to three).
- Let me know in a comment where you’ve shared.
- Notify me of your name.
Giveaways are open to residents of the continental U.S. and Canada and are only open to those who have not won from me in the last year.
I will announce the winner on Saturday, November 11, so look for it! If I don’t hear from the winner within a week, I will draw another name. Thank you!