HAS anyone ever done something wrong to you?— Did he hurt you or say something unkind to you?— Should you treat him in the same unkind way that he treated you?—
If someone hurts them, many people will hurt that person to pay him back. But Jesus taught that we should forgive those who do wrong to us. (Matthew 6:12) What if a person is unkind to us many times? How many times should we forgive him?—
That is what Peter wanted to know. So one day he asked Jesus: ‘Do I have to forgive him as many as seven times?’ Seven times is not enough. Jesus said: ‘You are to forgive seventy-seven times’ if the person sins against you that many times.
That is a lot of times! We would not even remember that many wrongs or bad things that a person did to us, would we? And this is what Jesus was telling us: We should not try to remember the number of wrongs others may do to us. If they ask to be forgiven, we should forgive them.
Jesus wanted to show his disciples how very important it is to be forgiving. So after he answered Peter’s question, he told his disciples a story. Would you like to hear it?—
Once there was a good king. He was very kind. He would even lend money to his slaves when they needed help. But the day came when the king wanted his slaves who owed him money to pay him back. Well, one slave was brought in who owed the king 60 million pieces of money. That’s a lot of money!
But the slave had spent all the king’s money and could not pay the king back. So the king gave orders for him to be sold. The king also said to sell the slave’s wife and his children and everything that he owned. Then, with the money received from the sale, the king was to be paid. How do you suppose this made the slave feel?—
He knelt down before the king and begged: ‘Please, give me more time, and I will pay back everything that I owe you.’ If you had been the king, what would you have done with the slave?— The king felt sorry for his slave. So the king forgave him. He told the slave that he did not have to pay back any of the money, not even one of the 60 million pieces. How happy that must have made the slave!
But what did that slave do then? He went out and found another slave, one who owed him just one hundred pieces of money. He grabbed this fellow slave by the neck and began to choke him, saying: ‘Pay back the one hundred pieces you owe me!’ Can you imagine a person doing something like that, especially after having been forgiven so much by the king?—
Well, the slave who owed just one hundred pieces of money was poor. He could not pay the money back right away. So he fell down at the feet of his fellow slave and begged: ‘Please, give me more time, and I will pay back what I owe you.’ Should the man have given his fellow slave more time?— What would you have done?—
This man was not kind, as the king had been. He wanted his money right away. And because his fellow slave could not pay it, he had him thrown into prison. Other slaves saw all of this happen, and they did not like it. They felt sorry for the slave who was in prison. So they went and told the king about it.
The king did not like what had happened either. He became very angry at the unforgiving slave. So he called him and said: ‘You bad slave, didn’t I forgive what you owed me? So should you not have been forgiving to your fellow slave?’
The unforgiving slave should have learned a lesson from the good king. But he had not. So now the king had that slave thrown into prison until he could pay back the 60 million pieces of money. And, of course, in jail he could never earn the money to pay the king back. So he would stay there till he died.
As Jesus finished telling this story, he said to his followers: “In like manner my heavenly Father will also deal with you if you do not forgive each one his brother from your hearts.”—Matthew 18:21-35.
You see, we all owe God very much. In fact, our very life comes from God! So when compared with what we owe to God, other people owe us little. What they owe us is like the one hundred pieces of money that the one slave owed to the other. But what we owe to God because of the wrong things we do is like the 60 million pieces that the slave owed to the king.
God is very kind. Though we have done wrong things, he forgives us. He does not make us pay by taking our lives away from us forever. But this is the lesson we need to remember: God forgives us only if we forgive people who do wrong to us. That’s something to think about, isn’t it?—
So if someone does something unkind to you but then says that he is sorry, what will you do? Will you forgive him?— What if it happens many times? Will you still forgive him?—
If we were the person who is asking to be forgiven, we would want the other person to forgive us, wouldn’t we?— So we should do the same for him. Not only should we say that we forgive him but we should really forgive him from our heart. When we do that, we show that we really want to be followers of the Great Teacher.