Let’s face it. We all have done or said something for which we need to be forgiven. What we do might be unique to our situation, but the truth that we all do and say things that we should not have said or done cannot be denied. Hopefully, our family and friends forgive our momentary lapse in judgement, and our relationships move forward. But what if we aren’t forgiven? What if our family and friends refuse to forgive us? Would we feel an injustice has been done? Afterall, our mistake wasn’t intentional; it was a momentary lapse in judgement. If we thought ahead of time, we (hopefully) wouldn’t have said or done whatever it was in the first place.
In today’s Gospel lesson we hear about just such a case of a lack of forgiveness. One man owed a nominal debt to another, and had begged for a little extra time to repay. No extra time was given, and the man was thrown into debtors prison. Unfortunately, both men owed a debt, and one owed a huge debt to the king, and would never have been able to have enough time to repay the debt. He also begged for more time. Ultimately, more time was not given. “'You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?’ And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him.” (Matthew 18.32-34)
Forgiveness can be a sticky subject. We all like being forgiven, but we don’t all like to forgive. We enjoy the benefit of extra chances to get life right, but we rarely offer others the same opportunity. Jesus said, "So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses." (Matthew 18.35) Can you imagine the pain of knowing we could have been forgiven by God if only we had forgiven someone else for that momentary lapse in judgment?
The Gospel story begins, “Therefore the kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants.” (Matthew 18.23) There will come a time without doubt that God will come to settle accounts with each of us. We don’t know when; we don’t know where. What we can be sure of, however, is that He will expect us to have already forgiven other people whatever small (or large) thing they may have said or done. At that moment it will be too late to change our hearts. Now is the time because there is no salvation without forgiveness.