To be honest this story is kind of unnerving. Forgiveness is something that is much easier to talk about than to do. But then Jesus raises the stakes even higher. Forgiving like He requires of us is continual and risky. Peter thought his “seven times” was huge, only to have Jesus say “seventy times seven”. As we see in the parable that follows, Jesus isn’t limiting forgiveness to 490 times but setting the bar higher – like God has forgiven you!
My immediate reaction to this is “but forgiving like this sets me up to being used”. The short answer to this is yes it does. When people learn that I will forgive them over and over then there is a very real chance that they will take advantage of my grace. But if I am honest (not easy with this topic) I have to admit that this is exactly what God offers me! Jesus likens His forgiveness of my sin to the massive debt the king forgave. Without regularly remembering God’s forgiveness and the great cost He paid to secure it, I can slide into becoming unforgiving, cold, bitter and vengeful toward others and their offenses to me.
Genuine faith in Christ is evidenced by a growing sense of gratitude for God’s mercy and offering the same to others. Sure, we will be taken advantage of and used, but our Heavenly Father has been too. Remember though that when you and I forgive, we are only letting people off our hook. God will deal with them as He sees fit…and us too!