Have you ever felt that someone else withheld forgiveness from you, or you from them? Scene 1 in today’s story is about the pressure on the small businessman hoping debtors will pay up before the creditors need payment. For us DEBT provides a metaphor for forgiveness. Note that when the servant asks, he is totally for forgiven. But when we are sinned against, should we mercifully forgive when we are asked?
The Lord’s prayer asks ‘Forgive us our sins AS we forgive those who sin against us’. Will we be more forgiving i) the more we admit that we too are imperfect? ii) if we knew the life story of an offender, eg the abuser who was abused? If we build up our credit offering forgiveness to others, may we count on a lot of forgiveness from others?
In Scene 2 the theme changes from forgiveness to justice. The servant is unmoved by the forgiveness he received He is found to be unforgiving. In his imprisonment, do we have a metaphor of an emotional imprisonment that engulfs people who cannot forgive.
I don’t know that GOD enslaves and tortures people but I know that we can enslave and torture ourselves when we nurse our bitterness, even when we have been forgiven. Terrible abuse enslaves people who have blotted out what happened and hardly know what to forgive. When they do know, they may have no capacity to trust another person, let alone forgive them.
A book entitled ‘Don’t forgive too soon’(1997) understands that forgiveness is not a pearl to throw before swine. The book offers a healthy process towards being forgiving that is not passive or self-abusive in any way. True grace is not cheap; but it is transformative.
The last verse creates a striking contrast between unforgiving bitterness and unconditional forgiveness. ‘Unless you forgive ‘unconditionally’ … i.e ‘from your heart’. Forgiveness has much to do with our own attitude. We may forgive at our own initiative rather than make it depend on the other person saying sorry. Our forgiveness may liberate a hurting person into hope.
From The Velveteen Rabbit. ‘When you are real’, said the skin horse to the velveteen rabbit, lying by the fender one day, ‘you cannot be ugly, except to someone who does not understand’.