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It HAS cost you – now what?

A re-post about forgiveness...

I've been studying Matthew 18:21-35.  I find it really helpful to put some modern-day figures on the money involved.  Ten thousand talents - let's call that a hundred billion pounds.  A hundred denarii?  Let's call that £5000.  I've cost Christ a hundred billion and He's forgiven the debt.  My friend has cost me five grand.

Now five grand is not nothing.  If you cost me five grand I will be mighty peeved.  But only until I remember the hundred billion.  And that's how forgiveness works.  It's always costly.  A hundred denarii aint nothing.  But first appreciate the hundred billion.  Then cancel the five grand.

But here's where a lot of my problems come from.  I refuse to face the damage done to me.  I dare not stare it full in the face and say "You robbed me of five grand (or even five million!) and I'm never getting it back."  I don't feel I have the resources to take such a hit.  So instead of facing the loss head on and drawing on my resources in Christ I convince myself that the five grand is not gone for good.  It can't be gone, it's all I had.  So I consider it as an outstanding debt.  And I make them pay.  In tit-for-tat and slurs and cold shoulders and the mental equivalent of voodoo dolls.

And whilever they are a debtor making repayments, forgiveness is just not an option.  I've bought into a repayment model and cancelling the debt is unthinkable.  But once I face the debt as a straight out loss I can say "Dang, it's cost me.  Now what?"  And that's really the position of us all when we are wronged.  The devil loves to tell us - "You haven't really lost out for good.  You can recoup your costs here, let me show you how."  But the devil is a liar.  I have lost.  It's gone and it's not coming back except by the redeeming hand of Christ.  But for now I need to appreciate the loss as a loss.  A dead loss.  Not bruised and battered.  Dead.  And it can only become gain in the hands of the Lord of Resurrection.

Because once I've faced the loss I then realise my options.  Bitterness/ hard-heartedness/ revenge is an option which involves its own costs.  On the other hand there's 'taking pity, cancelling the debt and letting them go' (Matt 18:27).

The one option I don't have (and never did have) was recouping the loss. But only once I've faced the loss am I able to make the decision that can free me (and them).  I've lost out and nothing will change that.  Now I've got to choose how to handle that loss.  The devil's way will cost me dearly.  But Jesus says "I know a way of handling this loss that will free you and free them and put you in touch with the power of my cosmic redemption."

It begins by acknowledging my own debt. Feeling the weight of my hundred billion.  Rejoicing in its cancellation.  Then facing the loss of the five thousand.  This is vital.  But it continues in taking pity, cancelling the debt and letting go.  In the end the only way to handle the loss is to realise it really is loss.

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2 thoughts on “It HAS cost you – now what?

  1. Josh VB

    I wonder whether the one hundred billion and £5000 are more closely connected. No one runs up £100,000,000,000 in debt by buying too much wine, horses or even houses; but it would be relatively easy if you were lending out large sums of money to lots of people and expecting a return (e.g. of that £5000). Whether that is too much eisegesis or not, I still suspect that the man doesn't really believe he's been forgiven and he'd like the £5000 in order to repay the debts that he thinks he still owes (maybe he's relieved that he's got extra time to repay the debt and he accepts that forgiveness, but in his heart he's still keen to pay it back when he can). If that is the case, he should have realised he was totally forgiven, and that that £5000 debt can be forgiven because it was already cancelled as part of the £100,000,000,000 debt.

    Theologically, if I realise I am utterly in Christ, then any sin against me is a sin against Christ (or - and I'm not sure how exactly I should put this - is a sin against that part of me which doesn't seem to be experience the dominion of Christ - in which case it's no bad thing that have that part battered away a bit) which he has already promised to forgive.

    At a pastoral level, much of the difficulty I experience when I am sinned against comes from thinking I am too good a person to be treated in such a way. The sin against me thus knocks against my self-righteousness which is what I use to try and repay the debt that I used to have against God and still think I have because I still want to repay God. But if I truly realised I was forgiven and declared righteous, I wouldn't worry if someone treated me like dirt, because I know the king of kings doesn't treat me that way.

    Sorry - that's all a bit garbled... I''m enjoying reflecting on Christ my champion as I watch the Olympics ;)

  2. Steve Martin

    We drop the baton, we miss the bar, we don't get out of the blocks, we miss the target...but in Him...we get the gold.

    He is our Champion. Thanks be to God. Without Him there is only defeat. In Him all things are possible.

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