, Muskogee, OK

February 3, 2014

God says strive for forgiving spirit

By Barrett Vanlandingham
Fort Faith

— The notion of having to sell your spouse and children in order to repay a debt is unthinkable. Jesus told this parable in Matthew 18:21-35 about a servant who owed his master millions of dollars, but could not pay it back.  

“The servant fell on his knees before him (the master). ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.”

That would be such a nice story if that were the way it ended. However, the servant who had just received mercy went out and had someone else thrown in prison who couldn’t repay a debt to him. This seems outrageous. But isn’t this exactly how we behave sometimes? We all like to receive mercy, and we love it when people are patient with us. But how many of us embrace opportunities to show mercy and have patience towards others? And if that doesn’t step on our toes enough, how many of us are deficient at showing God the proper commitment, even as we expect Him to stay committed to us, and show us great amounts of love and patience and mercy?

I recently watched a YouTube video in the “I Am Second” series. Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson was reminiscing about when he caught some thieves red-handed as they were attempting to steal fish from Phil’s net. The incident took place just after Phil had become a Christian and changed his lifestyle. So, instead of running the thieves off with his shotgun, Phil told them they could have whatever was in the net. From that point on, Phil said those thieves stopped stealing fish all up and down the river. Phil said that God knew what would work all along.

Matthew 5:40 says, “And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well.”

Some people look at forgiving others as a sign of weakness, especially if the one being forgiven gets away without being punished. Please don’t get me wrong, the Bible does not promote thievery, laziness, or the carrying on of undisciplined lifestyles. After all, “If anyone isn’t willing to work, he should not eat (2 Thes. 3:10).” But there are simply times that showing mercy and patience teaches a better lesson than harsh punishment.  

The apostle Paul urges us to “Not repay anyone evil for evil (Romans 12:17).” Forgiveness is proactive, gives peace of mind, and makes you no longer the victim. Forgiveness takes the burden off your shoulders and allows God to take vengeance as He sees fit in his own time.

Have a great week!   

Reach Barrett Vanlandingham at the Fort Gibson Church of Christ at (918) 478-2222 or