Pay It Forward

In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed. This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart. (Matthew 18:34-35Open Link in New Window).

In this day and age, we like to think of God as always full of love, kindness and patience, almost incapable of anger and wrath. We would rather think of Him as our Savior and Friend. We would rather not think of Him as Master or Judge. The truth is that although no one has more love for us than God, He does sometimes get angry with us. In the story of the unmerciful servant, the master showed incredible kindness to the servant who owed him far, far more money than he could ever possibly pay back. This represents the amazing love that God showed us when He paid the unmeasurable cost of our redemption with the blood of His only Son. Knowing that we could never save ourselves, He sacrificed for us in order that we could. Having received such kindness, the servant should have then paid it forward, so to speak, forgiving others. Yet he did not. He unmercifully had a brother thrown into prison because he could not pay back a tiny amount of money. This made the master very angry so he had the servant thrown into prison just as the he had done to his brother. There he was to be tortured until he should pay back all he owed. However, the servant would never be able to pay back all he owed. The implication is that he would be tortured forever. In the same way, we can never pay back to God all we owe for our sins. Without His grace, we can expect to be tortured for all eternity in hell. What a terrible rejection it is to be angrily thrust away from God’s loving kindness like that to face inescapable and neverending suffering! The sobering reality is that God won’t gingerly and reluctantly drop into hell those who abuse His kindness. No, hot with anger, God will have them thrown into the fiery lake of burning sulfer (Revelation 21:8Open Link in New Window) where the worm does not die and the fire is not quenched (Mark 9:48Open Link in New Window).

Is this the same Jesus who loves the little children? Is this the same God who loves us so much that He sacrificed His own Son for our sakes. Yes. We have the opportunity to receive His amazing love. In doing so, we also receive the joyful charge to pass along that love to others. Yet it is also a solemn responsibility with a painful penalty for unfaithfulness. Because of the blood of Christ, we can approach the throne of grace boldly and joyfully, yet we need to remain humble and maintain a healthy fear of the Lord as we serve Him and live our lives. As we have freely received from Him, we must also freely give to others.

Lord, change me into Your image. Help me to be faithful to You and to love others. Transform my heart to no longer be selfish but to consider others’ needs before my own. Give me the capacity to forgive and to show kindness even to my enemies and the unmerciful. Help me to love people even if they don’t deserve it because I didn’t deserve Your love and You loved me anyway. Praise You, Heavenly Father, for Your love is better than life! 

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