Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Take Your Hands off That Neck!

Jesus told a parable about a king that forgave a slave who owed him $50 million (in today's dollars). It would take 4,500 lifetimes to pay off the debt, yet the merciful king let him off the hook! You would think that slave would be so grateful that he would forgive all his debtors as well. Not so with this guy. He went and found a fellow-slave who owed him $15. When the fellow-slave couldn't repay, he wrapped his hands around the other man's neck and began to choke him (Matt. 18:28).

Are your hands around someone's neck? Maybe you aren't choking anyone physically, but what about in your mind? The $50 million debt represents our sin-debt to God. When we ask God's forgiveness, the Merciful King lets us off the hook. Since we have received His mercy, we must extend mercy to all our debtors and let them off the hook as well. How do we forgive our debtors?
1. Forgiveness is based on what God did for you, not what that person did to you.
I cannot give away something that I haven't first received. I can't give you $15 if I haven't first received $15. And I can't give forgiveness to others if I haven't first received it from God. But if the Lord has given me $50 million worth of forgiveness, it will very easy for me to give away $15 worth.

2. You must feel compassion for the person who hurt you.
The king "felt compassion" for the slave and then forgave him (Matt. 18:27). He changed the way he viewed the debtor, and his anger turned to pity. He actually felt sorry for that pitiful slave! Find a way to feel pity and compassion for that person, and then you'll find that forgiveness will come with it.

3. "Let go" by taking your hands off their necks.
You've got to quit demanding repayment. Maybe that repayment is an apology that's owed you, or you're waiting for an ungrateful person to say, "thank you." Quit expecting that person to make things right. That means you must swallow the debt yourself, just like the king had to take the loss for the $50 million debt he was owed.

When you forgive your debtors, the burden you're carrying will be lifted off your soul. And that's worth a whole lot more than the $15 debt you forgave!
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Previous devotionals can be found at in the archive.