This past Sunday, Tim Keller preached on forgiving others. He used the Parable of the Unmerciful Servant in Matthew 18. Dr. Keller said that the way we forgive others is the way the King forgave his servant (probably a ruler of a designated area underneath the King, like Caesar and the Roman Empire) who owed him a very large amount of money and couldn't pay. Possibly due to a mistake in the ruling of his designated area, but who knows. The King first had pity on the man, or in other words, he related to the man, and the King's heart went out to him. Then he canceled the debt, which meant actually taking the payment on himself, making up for the loss himself, and taking care of whatever damage was done with his own resources. And lastly he let the man go.
And this is how God forgives us. I remember thinking during the sermon...that I sometimes forget what it actually means to be forgiven. "He paid a debt he did not owe. I owe a debt I could not pay...I needed someone to wash my sins away." That God has canceled my debt.
What is due God that I cannot pay him? Perfect submission. Perfect gratitude. Perfect honor. Perfect will. Perfect love. But God paid the debt through Christ. Christ, in his perfect submission and perfect gratitude and perfect honor and perfect will and perfect love, offered up what I owed but what I could not pay, and was sacrificed. He died and suffered the wrath of God. He paid for my debt so that I wouldn't have to.
A concept that is simple enough but so easily forgotten. A concept that can be known without being known.
I prayed that God would help me really understand his forgiveness, so that I could truly learn how to forgive others. And today, God answered my prayer.
We have been needing to pay a particular amount of money to a particular person who will remain unnamed but is kinda like a doctor but isn't. It was a big bill. So big that I needed to wait until some money from Mr. IRS came in. It did. I called this office today to request the final amount of the bill, and I was told that we owed nothing. That the person we owed canceled the debt. That the amount was written off as a doctor's expense. That we were free of the debt. She reiterated, quietly but weighing her words slowly and deliberately. I needed to pay nothing.
This man to whom I owed money took the debt upon himself and canceled it. He understood us. He related to us. His heart went out to us. And he let us go.
God wasted no time in granting my request. My understanding of His forgiveness was of the greatest importance to Him, to grasp how deep and how wide His love for me is. And He used a fellow Christian forgiving me my debt, to show me His love. And He's hoping and waiting for me to do the same to another soul in need of forgiveness, so that they may not only see, but truly feel, the love of God.