Yesterday I shared how God finally opened my eyes to realize how ugly my sin was with the "whiteboard challenge." My view of God's grace also changed as I truly saw myself as a sinner for the first time... I was overcome with thankfulness that God would overlook all of my offenses.
Today's post takes that one step further, and I am actually going to be sharing with you some of the points that the pastor shared the Sunday that God changed my heart. While I encourage you to check out the link and listen to the original sermon, I am also going to share here what really spoke to my heart that morning.
Let's turn back to the Bible passage we began with for today's conclusion, Matthew 18:21-35:
Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.
“Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii, and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay what you owe.’ So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt. When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place. Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”
In his sermon, the preacher shared that the monitary value of the first man's debt [ten thousand talents] would be worth 6 billion dollars in modern money, while the debt of the second servant [a hundred denarii] would be equivalent to $12,000. There are two things to take from this:
- THE FIRST MAN'S DEBT WAS INCALCUABLE No matter how long this servant worked, he would never be able to pay off his 6 billion dollar debt. His state was absolutely hopeless.
- THE SECOND MAN'S DEBT WAS STILL VALID Though it is nothing in comparison to the first man's debt, the $12,000 that the second servant owes is still a great deal of money.
This was me... before God revealed the gravity of my sin [see Part 2: The Whiteboard Challenge], I had no concept of how incalcuable my debt was. While I never actually thought of myself as telling God that I could pay Him back, my actions demonstrated that I did not have enough appreciation for His grace. My hurt seemed greater than my sin.
While the most important thing to take from this passage is that our debt to God is of infinite proportions, it was very validating for me to hear this next point:
On its own, the second man's debt was not inconsequential. In my own head, I projected the 100 denarii to be in the ballpark of 50 bucks... just a drop in the bucket. However, the pastor shared that the money would have been worth about $12,000... a substantial debt.
It was important for me to hear that... To know that the things that I've been through, the pain I've felt, the injustice I've suffered... all of my hurt is valid. God doesn't shrug it off as no big deal. On the contrary, it was like He was saying, "Yes, my child, you have been through painful things... it is natural for you to feel hurt." I felt understood by Holy God.
It felt good to be understood. But compared to my incalcuable debt against God and all the hurt that I knew I had caused Him, my hurt [valid and significant as it was] seemed like such a drop in the bucket. I was left with nothing but thankfulness and thankfulness and thankfulness. And still more thankfulness that my incalcuable debt has been paid! How could I not forgive my brothers and sisters?!
I am so very thankful that after years of struggling with this stumbling block in my life, and after so many prayers, God has finally opened my eyes and my heart to understand my debt and to see His grace in a whole new light. My struggle was long and frustrating, and there were many times when I felt discouraged. This verse comforted me over and over again:
"And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ." [Phil. 1:6]
If you struggle with forgiveness or some other stronghold in your life, I pray that you will be encouraged by my testimony of what God has done.
"Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen."