seventy times seven

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me?  Up to seven times?”  Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy times seven.”

Certainly if Peter was thinking that 7 times would be more than required he is shocked by Jesus’ reply of 490!

Although it may be possible for someone to sin against me more that 490 times in a day, it is highly unlikely, therefore perhaps Jesus used an unrealistically large number to convey that I should forgive as many times as I’m sinned against.

My calling as a Christian is to be like Christ; would Jesus ask me to do something that he would not?  Since Jesus is God, is God not willing to forgive me at least 490 times a day?1

Perhaps Jesus said 70×7 because I’m so unaware of my sins that 490 more accurately represents my true condition.2

Perhaps Jesus used 70×7 to give me a clue how His sacrifice will far outweigh the sin of mankind.3

“Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants.  

How is this parable like the kingdom of heaven?

The comparison in this parable doesn’t draw lines between the life we live in the flesh and the afterlife in that they are all within the kingdom.  Am I not living in the kingdom of God right now?  Does not the kingdom of God reign within a believer?4  5  6

As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him.

Assuming the man began to accrue debt from birth, if the man is 40 years old at the time of the story, he has lived 14,600 days and accrued over $1.2 Million of debt per day totaling nearly $18.8 Billion!!

Since he was not able to pay, his lord ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.

Considering a wage of $15 per hour, 18 hours a day for 365 days that’s $98,550 per year. With a family of 10 working and an average life span of 50 years it will take a minimum of 380 generations to pay back the debt without any added interest!

“The servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Lord, be patient with me,’ he begged,

“Be patient with me” Love is patient, is he asking to be loved?7

‘and I will pay back everything.’

Some how the servant seems to think it possible that he can repay such a great debt.  Clearly this isn’t a rich man or he would not have needed to borrow.  Certainly this man’s poverty is greater than ever with such a debt hanging over him however, he is unaware of the magnitude and trivializes it; there is absolutely no way he can pay back such a huge debt.

Even if he could pay the King $20 for every one of the 86,400 seconds in the day it would take over 40 years!!

As a sinner, it is a lie of the enemy that somehow I can make good on my debt.  Is it possible that even the smallest expression of such a belief is offensive to God?  Does not my offer to pay totally deny the completed work of the cross?8  9  10

The importance of embracing the fact that I can never repay my debt is so great that Jesus himself personally debunks the lie!11

Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, set him free and forgave the debt.

The Lord’s generosity turned the loss into an investment into the life of the servant. Forgiving a debt means that the lender agrees to carry the load of the loss. Is that not what the Lord Jesus did for sinners – for me?

Since God is love,12  13 will he not express all the attributes of love,  not singling out patience.14 Do I not see evidence of the fullness of love expressed here by compassion through the forgiveness of the debt?

“But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow-servants who owed him a hundred pence.

Considering the rate which the servant accrued debt ($20/second) for 40 years his fellow-servant only owed him 11 seconds!  ($220)15

He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded.  

It appears that the servant may still believe he’s under a debt; perhaps he believes that by collecting all that is owed him he can make a payment.  The evidence indicates that the servant didn’t accept the cancellation of his debt.  Could it be said that he didn’t forgive himself?

Once forgiven, the only debt that remains is to love!16  Once the servant’s debt was forgiven he owed nothing except the debt to love (forgive others debt).

“His fellow-servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.’

“Have patience with me” Love is patient; is his fellow-servant not requesting that he love him with the same love that was shown to him?17  18

 “But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt.  

Although this man physically walks in the freedom of forgiveness the seeds of love have not taken root in his heart, there is no good fruit, the overflow of his heart is of one who remains in bondage.19  20

When the other servants saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed and went and told their master everything that had happened. 

Even the world sees the injustice.  As a Christian, having received such a gift, should I not be among the most generous people in the world?  The fellow-servants are greatly distressed. The world has an expectancy for the things of God.21

Quote: “If you squeezed an orange and got apple juice wouldn’t that be weird? How come when you squeeze a Christian you get everything but Christ?” -Dan Mohler

“Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I cancelled all that debt of yours because you begged me to.  

The Lord’s investment yielded no fruit in the life of this man.22

Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow-servant just as I had on you?’  

The seeds of forgiveness were sown, but yielded no crop!23

“God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son.”24  Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.25  “We love because He first loved us.”26

In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.

Does unforgiveness usher me into the presence of the tormentor and subject me to his rule to extract payment for a debt that I can never satisfy?  Doesn’t DESPAIR, DISCOURAGEMENT, and HOPELESSNESS await all who go there?

Is unforgiveness the root of depression?27 If I am not forgiven what hope do I have?28

“This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart.”

If forgiveness is going to come from my heart, my heart must first be filled with forgiveness.29  30  For me to receive forgiveness in my heart, I must be aware of my need for forgiveness.31  32  Perhaps, the greater the awareness of my sin, the more forgiveness I can receive.33

Arrgh!!

I’m experiencing the difficulty of loving someone who wronged me.

Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy.  But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. 34

 

The Holy Spirit convicted me when I realized this person couldn’t wrong me unless the authority was given from heaven.2  I can see that God has prevented me from receiving the object of desire because of my wrong focus.  I thank Him but I’m still struggling.  I wasn’t deceptive with this person and he wronged me yet I can see that God has intervened to discipline me – that is if I’m willing to forgive and accept the truth.  Still, I’m stuck on the object of desire which is the cause of my deception.  I struggle some more while trying to read Hebrews. I can’t concentrate because I’m drawn back to what happened.  I choose to forgive.  I continue to read…

And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons?  My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him.  For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.”  It is for discipline that you have to endure.  God is treating you as sons.  For what son is there whom his father does not discipline?  If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.  Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them.  Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live?  For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness.  For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.3

 

Discipline is for my good so that I can share in God’s holiness producing a harvest of righteousness and peace if I am trained by it!  Wow, this is far greater that the object of desire that will rust and fade away. I think I’ve found a pearl and I’m ready to sell my right to justice and forgive instead of storing up bitterness.

But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.4

 

Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.5

 

My Prayer:  Forgive me, God, for setting up an idol and acting deceptively.  Thank you for preventing me from receiving it because of my wrong focus.  I forgive the man who wronged me.  I recognize You worked out the details for my good.  I humble myself before You.  I receive Your blessing of discipline. Thank You for Your love.  Thank You for correcting and expanding my focus.  Amen

10.03.11

Two Perspectives

Image by Frits Ahlefeldt

While reading the word today I saw two perspectives that correspond to two different out comes.

The first is one regarding the rich man:

And when he was gone forth into the way, there came one running, and kneeled to him, and asked him, Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?  And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God.  Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Defraud not, Honour thy father and mother.  And he answered and said unto him, Master, all these have I observed from my youth.  Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me.  And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions.6

 

The second is the buried treasure or fine pearl.

Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field.  Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls:  Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.2

 

The perspectives are opposites with one focused on how great the cost is and the other focused on how great the prize is.  Does the focus determine the outcome?  What shall I focus on; the cost or the gift?   My struggle is that I’ve weighed the cost and I don’t have what is needed.  I find myself left wanting.  I don’t see myself as being able to make the journey.  In the flesh I could muster all I have and hope that it is enough.  My experience tells me it is not.  I am at the point just after the rich man walks away and the disciples ask Jesus, “How then can anyone be saved?”3 If I can only take hold of Jesus’ answer I’ll have what I need because there is no other way.  All in or walk away?

This isn’t news to me, I’ve heard all this before.  I made a choice.  I get it, why am I faced with this again?  Is it possible this is what goes on each time I find myself in opposition to God – like when the Holy Spirit convicts me of sin.  Do I just not notice because sometimes the cost isn’t too great because I’m focused on the prize?  If so why has my perspective changed?  What has distracted me to take my eyes off of the Lord?  Has He withdrawn from me to show me I’m lost without him?  Is this a time of discipline?  Or is this perhaps a time when He is close because I’m in the fire being set free?

I feel disconnected and I’ve lost a taste for the things of this world.  I don’t know how to relate to my wife and children.  I don’t know if its always been this way and I’m just now aware of it or if its something new.

I have hope this is for a time and God is preparing me for what is to come.  I have hope He is preparing me to receive the desires of my heart.

Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.4

07.06.11