The Upper Room devotional reflection for Thursday, November 3, 2022, comes to us from Ifenwembi Chinedu of Anambra, Nigeria.
21 Then Peter came and said to him, "Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?" 22 Jesus said to him, "Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times. 23 "For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves.
24 When he began the reckoning, one who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him; 25 and, as he could not pay, his lord ordered him to be sold, together with his wife and children and all his possessions, and payment to be made. 26 So the slave fell on his knees before him, saying, "Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.' 27 And out of pity for him, the lord of that slave released him and forgave him the debt. 28 But that same slave, as he went out, came upon one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred denarii; and seizing him by the throat, he said, "Pay what you owe.' 29 Then his fellow slave fell down and pleaded with him, "Have patience with me, and I will pay you.' 30 But he refused; then he went and threw him into prison until he would pay the debt. 31 When his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their lord all that had taken place. 32 Then his lord summoned him and said to him, "You wicked slave! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. 33 Should you not have had mercy on your fellow slave, as I had mercy on you?' 34 And in anger his lord handed him over to be tortured until he would pay his entire debt. 35 So my heavenly Father will also do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother or sister from your heart."
When I was in college, it was my habit to use the teachers’ chalk to write a short message on the blackboard after class. I hoped my messages would bless someone. One day my friend erased everything I had written on the blackboard, calling it nonsense. I was furious and walked out of the class, wanting God to punish my friend for his actions. I took my devotional with me when I left, and the topic was on forgiveness. When I was done reading, I felt God ask me to apologize to my friend.
It was difficult because I believed he was in the wrong, but I went and apologized for walking away angrily. He smiled, hugged me, and gave me a new chalk to write with. Many times we want people to suffer for doing wrong to us. Sometimes it is difficult to forgive. But in those times, we can remember that Jesus’ sacrifice brought us God’s forgiveness. In receiving this grace-filled gift of God’s love, we can find God’s grace sufficient for us to be able to forgive others.
We all know someone that has become consumed by their bitterness, vengefulness, doubt, fear and stubbornness. Our stubbornness robs us of the opportunity to experience reconciliation, renewal, peace, and the freedom forgiveness offers to us. Indeed, we become too stubborn for our own good. Our refusal to seek forgiveness and to offer forgiveness to others, results in a form of stubbornness that is rebellious and self-destructive. Becoming a fully devoted follower of Christ is a voluntary decision and in choosing Christ we have also accepted the requirements and responsibility, i.e. seeking forgiveness and offering forgiveness.
Far too often we withhold from others the forgiveness that we beg God to grant us.
We’ve forgotten that when we cried out in our moment of desperation that God willfully forgave us. God has given us the ultimate example of genuine forgiveness: God forgets what we have done and God no longer holds our past against us. When God grants us forgiveness and covers over our transgressions – willful, deliberate and conscious wrongdoing – God ensures that our relationship is refreshed and untainted by past issues. God’s unconditional love for us covers an immeasurable volume of sin, but only for the truly repentant. We must be willing to take ownership of and responsibility for our willful, deliberate, and conscious wrongdoing. I invite you to earnestly and sincerely pray for God to help you forgive someone who has wrong you, just as God has and continues to forgive you.
Father God, thank you for calling us to serve you, no matter our age. Empower us to do you good work throughout our lives. Amen.
-- Ifenwembi Chinedu
Someone who has wronged me.
Thought for the day:
I can forgive others because God forgave me first.