Wednesday, November 17, 2010


Matthew 18:34 And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers,until he should pay all his debt. 35 So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart."

34 καὶ ὀργισθεὶς ὁ κύριος αὐτοῦ παρέδωκεν αὐτὸν τοῖς βασανισταῖς ἕως οὗ ἀποδῷ πᾶν τὸ ὀφειλόμενον. 35  οὕτως καὶ ὁ πατήρ μου ὁ οὐράνιος ποιήσει ὑμῖν, ἐὰν μὴ ἀφῆτε ἕκαστος τῷ ἀδελφῷ αὐτοῦ ἀπὸ τῶν καρδιῶν ὑμῶν.

This comes at the end of a parable Jesus told the disciples in response to a question Peter asked.  Peter thought he was being really spiritual by offering to forgive his brother seven times.  Then Jesus told him that he was to forgive his brother seventy-seven times.  In other words, Jesus was using hyperbole to say that we must forgive as many times as we are wronged.  Then He told this parable about a wicked servant who was forgiven an unpayable debt but would not forgive a much more minor one.

This one always gets me because I know how vindictive my heart can be.  I do not default to grace, even though I often try to remind myself of just how much I have been forgiven.  It's convicting because of the construct ἐὰν μὴ.  This can be translated "unless."  In other words, this verse makes it seem like our acceptance before God is contingent upon how we forgive.

However, I don't think we should interpret this as a works-based salvation, though it would be natural to do so.  Instead, we need to see this as the natural result of grace.  If we have truly been forgiven for our sins by a holy God then forgiving our brother will not be that big of a deal.  It is something that we will be able to do.  In fact, how could we not do it if we truly believe in God's grace?

How are you doing with this?

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