21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”
22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.[g]
23 “Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24 As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold[h] was brought to him. 25 Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.
26 “At this the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ 27 The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.
28 “But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins.[i] He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded.
29 “His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’
30 “But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. 31 When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened.
32 “Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. 33 Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ 34 In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.
35 “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”
Jesus, I am trying to think if there is anyone that I have not forgiven. Those who most sorely wounded me are members of my church growing up and members of my family. With some of the hurt within the family, it is only recently that I have seen how much pain I have been carrying because I have believed their opinion of me. I was angry for a while. When I accepted that I was angry it seemed to dissipate. I was able to forgive and care for them more. This was strange because in some cases we never had a conversation because they were dead. However, I do find unforgiveness within me in strange areas. When I came to America I had trained to play soccer and the coach that I approached told me that I couldn’t because I was ineligible. He was wrong and I was devastated. It is only recently that I thought not forgiving the coach was a problem. According to Matthew 18, though, to truly forgive there has to be a conversation. That has never happened and I feel a little sick at the idea.
To forgive, there must be some real offence that has happened. there must also be some real conversation (as far as it is possible). If we do not forgive, we do not become healed. In other words we do not receive forgiveness and do not become healthy. I have met people who say that they have forgiven a person and they don’t need to talk with them – in most cases I can think of this has really looked like cowardice which comes from fear and a frail self-image. I know that I am accusing myself here, too.
The following questions were typed by my 20-month-old when I left the keyboard:
Should I forgive her?
How do you conclude that to truly forgive there has to be a conversation? I do not see that in this passage.
It’s a combination of the passages because Matthew 18 is a single discourse. A conversational approach is a part of reconciliation and forgiveness is the means by which one is reconciled. It wasn’t in the last verses, as you noted, but it was in the verses associated with them preceding. Well spotted.
Sorry, I do admit I could have searched the literary context before asking you. I believe you are drawing your conclusion from Matt. 18:15. I never made that connection because I read the preceding passage to be concerned with a general sin. Where as here, Peter asks about a sin “against me”. However, this is just showing how truly unholy I am because any sin would be “against me” if I viewed myself to be in the body of Christ and was truly concerned with presenting the whole body as blameless.
Forgiveness is something I should understand if I should ever counsel anyone. I like what you said about the shift you felt after accepting your emotions of anger and your realization of the healing that comes within the forgiveness. I still have questions in my heart about what is truly necessary for reconciliation. A conversation? Maybe. I do not believe the Bible explains everything to a T. Jesus says he can teach us his ways, though, and that the Holy Spirit will lead us into all truth.
Remember where it says, “As much as it depends upon you, live at peace with everyone.” I believe that this does not imply a passive response of ‘letting sleeping dogs lie, I believe that it is a response of trying to have a conversation but giving the other person freedom to walk away.