Don’t ask to be Tormented
Don’t ask to be Tormented
We are not saying that each and every individual case is the same or that each one is cut and dried. We are saying that each situation is different from those of others that you may know or those that you have read about in a book. What we are saying is that there are universal consequences that result from refusing to forgive, no matter how big or small the offense may be or no matter how tangled or complex the issue.
Take a look at one of Jesus’s parables in Matthew 18:21-35 entitled the parable of the unforgiving servant. Our Lord told this parable in response to Peter’s question: Matthew 18:21 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?” We can glean from this parable the awful result of harboring grudges against others, in light of how much God has forgiven us. The king discovered that one of his servants owed him 10,000 talents. One talent is equal to approximately the wages for 25 years of labor. Extrapolating that out 10,000 talents would be approximately the wages for 250 years. If we convert to today’s monetary value and say that $40,000 would be the annual wages. In today’s monetary value 10,000 talents would be approximately $10 billion. Even in today’s monetary value that debt would be impossible to repay in one lifetime. Josephus states that the revenue collected by the Roman government each year for the land of Palestine would be approximately 900 talents. Far less than a 10,000 talents that Jesus chose as an astronomical figure deliberately intending to represent an unfathomable amount.
The king ordered the man be brought before him and demanded that he and his family be sold in hopes of recouping at least a small portion of the debt. The servant fell on his knees, begging the king to be patient with him, assuring him that he would repay him every cent he owed. From the analysis that was an impossibility for him to accomplish in one lifetime. The king understood that he could not possibly repay him the amount of money and he took pity on him. He canceled the debt letting him go.
Even though the king had forgiven the servant he returned home a forgiven man but went out looking for his fellow servants who owed him 100 denarii. Seizing him he demanded payment of what he owed. Matthew 18:28 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.’
A single denarius was a day’s wage for a common laborer, so 100 denarii would be about 3 month wages. Using the same $40,000 as an annual wage this would convert to approximately $10,000 no small amount for most workers. When we compare the 2 amounts we see that there is really no comparison between the enormous debt that the unforgiving servant had been forgiven. When we compare the unforgiving servant to his servant we find how coldhearted the unforgiving servant really was. When we take a deeper look at this particular parable we get a sense that the Holy Spirit is generally pointing His finger at our own hearts saying “Isn’t that what you do?” Every time we refuse to forgive, any time we hold a grudge, we are like the unforgiving servant who grabbed his debtor by the throat, demanding: “Pay back what you owe me.”
When the unforgiving servant was hauled back in before the king who had canceled his debt he was handed over to the jailers. Matthew 18:34 And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt.
Consider the concluding verse of this parable. Matthew 18:35 So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.” The unforgiving servant was thrown into the debtor’s prison and ended up just like his servant who owed him 3 months wages, was tormented the very same way he had treated his debtor. In verse 35 our Lord is stating this is what God will do to each one of us who fails to forgive our brother from your heart. Let me restate this when we refuse to forgive, we set ourselves up to be turned over to our torturers.
Our Lord is referring to eternal torture, for those who refuse to forgive others. There is also another application that we can glean from this parable: those of us who refuse to forgive those who sin against us may be turned over to more immediate temporal torturers. What are some of these torturers? Chronic mental illness, emotional illness, and physical disorder people struggle with today are rooted in bitterness and unforgiveness. There is abundant research that confirms that anger and resentment are responsible for many of our physical problems.
We are not suggesting for a moment that every physical ache or pain is caused by bitterness or unforgiveness. There are many cases where this may be true. God never intended our bodies to hold up under the weight of unresolved conflict and bitterness. We need to make this very clear that being a forgiving person will not guarantee you a pain-free life. But we wonder how much pain we might be spared and how much money we could save on doctors and therapists bills if we refuse to let our bitterness take root in our hearts.