Daily Devotional

Forgiving the Debt You are Owed

by Simon Whitton

24 As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him.
25 Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.
26 "The servant fell on his knees before him. 'Be patient with me,' he begged, 'and I will pay back everything.'
27 The servant's master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.
28 "But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii. He grabbed him and began to choke him. 'Pay back what you owe me!' he demanded.
29 "His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, 'Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.'
30 "But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt.
31 When the other servants saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed and went and told their master everything that had happened.
32 "Then the master called the servant in. 'You wicked servant,' he said, 'I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to.
33 Shouldn't you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?'
34 In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.
35 "This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart."

Matthew 18:24-35 (NIV)

When someone has done something to harm or wrong us in some way, they become indebted to us.  If someone steals a cow from you they owe you a cow.  If someone damages your fence, they are responsible to repair or replace it.  This is a moral code that God endorses throughout scripture, and is universally accepted by mankind.

Law courts across the world uphold this principle and award financial compensation for loss or injuries people have received.  In many cases, courts even require people to compensate victims who have not been physically harmed or wronged, but whose reputation has been slandered.

If you wrong someone and then apologize, asking for forgiveness, what you are really doing is acknowledging that you are indebted to them and asking them to forgive that debt.

This is why, when someone wrongs you, it is natural for you to have bad feelings towards them; they are genuinely indebted to you.  They owe you.

Unfortunately, rarely in life is there an acknowledgement of this sort of debt.  So when you have been badly wronged, a large amount of outstanding debt can accumulate with little or no chance that you will ever collect on it.  This debt can become a huge burden and can even damage your health.

The solution is to forgive the debt.  You will live a much freer life if you keep your accounts short and books clean.

Take a quick assessment of what you think is owed to you.  Then remind yourself just how much debt you have been forgiven by God.  If you are a diligent bookkeeper, it will probably be a huge sum.

Decide right now to forgive all outstanding debt that you are owed.  In some cases it may be useful to name specific debts and declare them canceled.

Forgiveness, like salvation, is a transaction sealed by faith.  Once a debt is canceled, it should not be claimed again.  Feelings of resentment may return, but remind yourself that you forgave them, and lean on your faith, not feelings, until the debt no longer shows up in your heart.

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