V


Patience, Mercy, and Forgiveness

When little is forgiven, little love is returned.

A certain man was reviewing the accounts of two men who had borrowed money.
One owed him five hundred gold pieces, while the other owed him fifty. Knowing that neither had any means of repaying him, he compassionately forgave both of their debts. Which of these two men do you suppose was the most grateful?

Likewise, the time came for a certain king to appraise his financial records. During this process, one of his servants, who owed a staggering amount of ten thousand gold pieces, was brought before him.

Since it was impossible that the servant ever repay such a debt, the king resorted to the law, which decreed that the debtor and his family be sold into slavery, and their house and possessions be disposed of in a public auction.

Sorrowfully, the servant fell to his knees before the king and cried: "My Lord and King, I beg you to have patience with me, and I will repay you all that I owe."

So moved was the king with compassion that he forgave the debt, and let his servant go free.

On his way home, this same servant encountered a friend who owed him a few pennies. Instead of showing mercy, however, he seized the man by the throat, shouting: "Thief! Pay me back the coins that you borrowed from me."

His friend fell at his feet and pleaded: "Please be patient! I swear that I will repay you every last cent."

But the servant wouldn't listen, even to his friend's begging and tears, and had the poor man dragged off to prison until he could repay the debt according to the law.

By chance, some of the king's servants witnessed this outrageous behavior and reported it back to the king.

Immediately, the king sent for his servant and said: "Wicked servant. I forgave you an immense debt simply out of mercy. Couldn't you have shown similar compassion to your own friend who owed you such an insignificant sum?"

Having said this, the king handed the servant over to his prison guards, and commanded them to lock him away until all his debts had been paid. So will my heavenly Father judge you if you refuse to forgive your own brothers and sisters from the depths of your hearts.

Do not limit your attitude of forgiveness. Are you willing to forgive seven times? Seventy times seven times is more appropriate. Make peace, even with you enemies. Constant striving will lead only to greater trouble: lawsuits, courtrooms, even prison, with no way of undoing the penalty except by completing your sentence.

Do you remember the saying: an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth? I tell you the opposite. If somebody strikes you on the right cheek, offer him your left; or if someone sues you and takes your coat, offer the shirt off your back as well. If someone compels you to walk one mile, be willing to walk two. Give freely to those who ask of you, and never turn a deaf ear to those in need.

When you stand in the place of worship, do so with a heart overflowing with forgiveness, even as your Father in heaven forgives you. And should you bring an offering into the place of worship, only then remembering an unresolved disagreement, leave your gift at the altar. Go first and be reconciled, and then return to make an offering of your gift. If someone wrongs you, go and discuss it with that person in private. If they listen to you, you will have gained a friend.

Learn to practice forgiveness, and your life will be filled with mercy and grace.




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