Paying Our Debt to God

Daily Reflection – 3/14/2023

Sacred Scripture

Peter approached Jesus and asked him, “Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus answered, “I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times. That is why the kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king who decided to settle accounts with his servants. When he began the accounting, a debtor was brought before him who owed him a huge amount. Since he had no way of paying it back, his master ordered him to be sold, along with his wife, his children, and all his property, in payment of the debt. At that, the servant fell down, did him homage, and said, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back in full.’ Moved with compassion the master of that servant let him go and forgave him the loan. When that servant had left, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a much smaller amount. He seized him and started to choke him, demanding, ‘Pay back what you owe.’ Falling to his knees, his fellow servant begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.’ But he refused. Instead, he had him put in prison until he paid back the debt. Now when his fellow servants saw what had happened, they were deeply disturbed, and went to their master and reported the whole affair. His master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you your entire debt because you begged me to. Should you not have had pity on your fellow servant, as I had pity on you?’ Then in anger his master handed him over to the torturers until he should pay back the whole debt. So will my heavenly Father do to you, unless each of you forgives your brother from your heart.” ( Matthew 18:21-35)


In Christ, God offers us forgiveness of a debt that none of us could ever pay – the debt of sin.

The debt that is owed is harder to pay because we let our ego get in the way.  When we refuse to forgive the little offenses others cause us, we handcuff God’s mercy and put ourselves under a stricter justice. Previously, Christ pointed out, “For as you judge, so will you be judged, and the measure with which you measure will be measured out to you” (Matthew 7:2).

But this lesson is hard for us to learn. We tend to resent not only willful offenses, but also innocent mistakes. Whenever someone else causes us even a tiny inconvenience, we can easily lash out at the offender.. And it’s especially the case close to home – we often have less patience with our siblings, parents, spouses, children, or roommates than we do with strangers and acquaintances.

In this parable, as in the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus gives us the secret to forming a patient, forgiving heart. It consists in recognizing the immense evil of our own sin, and thereby perceiving the vastness of God’s goodness in forgiving it.

The second aspect is that each of us is in a constant situation of needing to receive forgiveness as well as to give it.  Forgiveness is a foundational block of the Christian community’s flow of life.  In an imperfect world, each disciple is, at the same time, saint and sinner.  

Forgiveness is like a powerful river flowing from the heart of God, that sweeps up everyone and everything in its path.  God’s unconditional, forgiving love washes over sinners, gathers them up and carries them along in the same flow of forgiveness.  

For a sinner to refuse forgiveness to another requires that sinner to withdraw from that flow of forgiving love, to swim to the bank, as it were, and to stay there alone, cold, and self-absorbed – out of the reach of God’s love. Who would ever want that?

We are commanded to forgive because forgiveness is all about love. Remember, the two greatest commandments are to love God and to love others. There is no way to forgive without loving, and there is no way to love without forgiving. We are all fallen humans, full of sin, selfishness, and short-sightedness. If we want to stay together in fellowship, then we must learn to forgive. And if you are obeying God’s command to love him and his creation, then you know how to forgive.

Stop for a moment. Reflect on the hurts you have experienced. Understand that by holding on to them, you are still captive to them. Pray for the person(s) who hurt you. Forgive them deep within your heart. Thank them for this opportunity to learn how to love God with all your soul and all of your heart.

Prayer of The Day

“Jesus, forgiveness is harder for me in some cases than others. Free me from this snare of the devil. Teach me to forgive, no matter how I feel. Refresh my embittered heart. May I always be refreshed by your love and, in turn, pass that love on to all in my life.”

Daily Note

Forgiveness is harder for many people. Some who have been wounded feel that some don’t deserve to be forgiven. And yet, God offer his forgiveness to them. Why, then, should we resist? Pray that we can be freed from the snare of the devil. Pray that we can learn to forgive. Pray that our embittered hearts can be made anew.

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