Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 103; 150, Zephaniah 1:1-6, 1 Corinthians 12:27-13:13, Matthew 18:21-35
Love and forgiveness are intertwined throughout the Gospel, and can’t be untangled. Both find their ultimate source in God: we love because we are loved, and we forgive because we have been forgiven. If we aren’t doing both, we are doing neither. Without both, all our other efforts are wasted. Paul told the Corinthian church:
If I speak in the tongues of mortals a nd of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
In a response to a question about how often we need to forgive someone, Jesus told a parable about a slave who was forgiven a large amount of debt by his master, but refused to forgive a debt that was only one hundredth of that amount. The master was angered by this lack of mercy, and demanded both punishment and repayment of the entire original debt.
Through Christ, God forgives us everything. Ev-er-y-thing. What we are asked to forgive others in return is a mere fraction. When in the Lord’s Prayer we pray “forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors,” we might want to remember both this parable and Paul’s teaching. If I have all faith, but do not have forgiveness … what do I have? I have nothing.
When we struggle to forgive, are we really struggling to believe we are forgiven? And when we struggle to love, is it because we can’t comprehend how much we are loved? Unlike money or time, love and forgiveness are in never-ending supply. There’s no reason to hoard them out of fear. God isn’t going to run out before we get our share. No matter how much love and forgiveness we give away, God promises to replenish our hearts with more.
Comfort: You are loved. You are forgiven.
Challenge: What offenses do you find difficult to forgive? Think about what they say about you.
Prayer: Holy God, forgive me my debts as I forgive my debtors. Amen.
Discussion: Has anyone ever had trouble forgiving you? Why do you think that is?
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