A different perspective.
There was a certain king who had great love for his people. Through eyes of mercy he saw the massive load of debt they owed, not only to him, but to each other. He was moved with compassion on their behalf and desired for them to be free. So, he took action and began to settle their accounts. A certain man found himself face-to-face with the king. The numbers were tallied and it was found his debt was so large a thousand lifetimes would not be sufficient time to repay the king. The judgment was rendered, ‘Sell him, his wife and children and all that he has so that repayment can be made.’ Hearing the words, the terrified man fell to the ground. Like a dog licking his master’s hand, he begged the king not for mercy, but for more time! ‘Have patience with me, and I will repay you everything.’ Who was he kidding? The king knew the impossibility of the promise. Moved with compassion the king released him, forgave the debt and gave the man liberty. But, the man walked away focused more on his debt, not his forgiveness or his freedom. He left in a rededication of self-effort to work harder to repay the king. No sooner out the door, than he runs into a brother who owed him a few pennies. He put his hands around his brother’s throat, choked him and said, ‘Pay back what you owe.’ The brother pleaded, ‘Have patience with me and I will repay you.’ An all-too familiar promise. The man demanded, ‘Throw him in prison until he repays what he owes me.’ The man could not forgive his brother for he himself had chosen renewed self-effort over the forgiveness offered. He could not give what he had not received. The news reached the king’s ear of the man’s bitterness and choice to do harm to a brother. The king, with passionate abhorrence of the damage done to another, ordered he be handed over for torture until the debt was repaid. Unforgiveness is a hell of it its own making. (Based on Matthew 18:21-35. Other resources, The Complete Word Study New Testament, Spiros Zodhiates; Bible Illustrator, and Vines.)
Jesus told the parable above to demonstrate the kingdom of heaven and to show us the character of the King. To forgive from the heart requires a source outside our own ability. That is what Christ has done for us by bestowing on us His lavish and unending forgiveness. “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us. Ephesians 1:7-8.
“For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” Colossians 1:13-14.
Like the man in the story, there was a time I was too ashamed at the size of my debt to receive God’s mercy and instead pleaded for more time to repay. I redoubled my effort and tried harder to do more “good” and less “bad”. The pain caused by the debt, guilt and shame continued to torture me. Because of my pride and unwillingness to yield and accept His forgiveness, I spewed on others the bitter poison and pain of unforgiveness. How about you? Let us all open wide our hearts to allow God’s lavish forgiveness to flow like a river into our lives. Let us run into freedom to dance in the fields of grace. We will find that out of this abundant, never-ending supply, we will be able to take our hands off our brother’s throat and allow him to walk free and dance in forgiveness too!