Asking for forgiveness is hard.
It means realizing that you’ve hurt someone. It means accepting responsibility.
Asking for forgiveness is also deeply intimate.
It means acknowledging that the relationship you have with someone is close enough that you can hurt them. It means being vulnerable.
“When that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him one hundred coins. He grabbed him around the throat and said, ‘Pay me back what you owe me.’
“Then his fellow servant fell down and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I’ll pay you back.’ But he refused. Instead, he threw him into prison until he paid back his debt.
“When his fellow servants saw what happened, they were deeply offended. They came and told their master all that happened. His master called the first servant and said, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you appealed to me. Shouldn’t you also have mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you?’ His master was furious and handed him over to the guard responsible for punishing prisoners, until he had paid the whole debt.
“My heavenly Father will also do the same to you if you don’t forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”
In the first part of this parable, Jesus tells about how the servant's debt was forgiven by the king after the servant pleaded with him. This passage tells how the forgiven servant acted afterwards, demanding payment from a fellow servant who owed him money. When the fellow servant begs for mercy, he is not granted time to repay, let alone forgiveness of the debt! Instead, he is thrown into jail.
How does one repay a debt while in jail? Relationships cannot be repaired when one is walled off from another.
Think of a time when a friend or relative did something that needed forgiveness and you denied it. What about when you needed forgiveness and did not get it? It can be torturous to live in that state, to know that the person you wronged has hardened their heart and, even when asked, is unable to forgive. It’s maybe worse to know that you were wronged and that your heart is so hard you cannot forgive.
God calls us to forgive abundantly and live into that day-by-day.
Loving God, I know what it is to hold a grudge and have a grudge held against me. I know how painful it is to ask for forgiveness and have that door slammed shut. I also know it can be painful to me to do the door slamming. Make me aware of when I deny forgiveness, and soften my heart. Amen.
Each day is a new chance to act with compassion and offer forgiveness.
May your eyes, ears, and heart be opened to the new beginnings forgiveness can offer, for the forgiver and the forgiven.