Friday of Lent 5
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.” Matthew 18:28–35
This second half of the parable teaches us that if we refuse to forgive others, then we ourselves prove that we have rejected God’s forgiveness. Those who have received the forgiveness of God by faith alone will forgive others. That doesn’t mean that forgiving others will come easily – it just means that it will eventually come.
Johann Michael Reu summarizes the implications of the 5th petition and this parable this way:
Because God forgives us all the sins we have committed against Him, we thankfully promise two things: 1. That we will heartily forgive those who have sinned against us; 2. That we will prove our forgiving spirit by doing good wherever we can to such as may sin against us.
Therefore, if we are to pray this Fifth Petition right, we must have: 1. A humble heart that acknowledges its great debt of sin against God; 2. A believing heart that relies on God’s grace; 3. A forgiving heart that is always ready to forgive others. (An Explanation of Dr. Martin Luther’s Small Catechism, 71)
Dear Jesus, help us to forgive others as You have forgiven us. Amen.