A Permanent Attitude

Read: Matthew 18:21-35

This week our nation is celebrating the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. and his unwavering dream that some day all people would be free from racism and ready to embrace forgiveness. I tweeted out one of my favorite MLK quotes on Monday that says, “Forgiveness is not an occasional act; it is a permanent attitude.”

Our brother Martin Luther King Jr. stood for so much. It is hard to put just one title or label on what he did and what he stood for. Most importantly he encouraged people to walk in the shoes of someone else and ask, “How does it feel?”

In Matthew 18 Jesus gives us a perfect example of that in his parable about the unmerciful servant. He is forgiven of all his great debts by the master, and then he still goes out and demands someone to pay him back for a debt that was much less than what his master had forgiven him for.

It doesn’t seem right to anyone who reads the story and yet I wonder how many times in our world that same situation plays itself out. We often desire to be forgiven, but we are much less willing to forgive ourselves. MLK encouraged us to make forgiveness a lifestyle, and do what Jesus told us to do by forgiving not only seven times, but seventy-seven times.

Pastor Brent Eelman once shared about a story from Philip Yancy’s book entitled “What’s So Amazing About Grace.” “Yancey tells the story of Ernest Hemingway. Hemingway grew up in a very devout evangelical family, and yet there he never experienced the grace of Christ. He lived a libertine life that most of us would call “dissolute”… but there was no father, no parent waiting for him and he sank into the mire of a graceless depression.

A short story he wrote perhaps reveals the grace that he hoped for. It is the story of a Spanish father who decided to reconcile with his son who had run away to Madrid. The father, in a moment of remorse, takes out this ad in El Libro, a newspaper. “Paco, meet me at Hotel Montana, Noon, Tuesday… All is forgiven… Papa.”

When the father arrived at the square in hopes of meeting his son, he found eight hundred Paco’s waiting to be reunited with their father. Was Paco such a popular name? Or is a father’s forgiveness the salve for every soul?”

The ability to forgive someone is not only salve for the relationship between a father and son, it can heal and restore any relationship. As Jesus encourages in this passage from Matthew 18 lets make it a lifestyle, lets make it a permanent attitude, lets make it make a difference in our lives and in those we need to forgive. The results will never disappoint when we choose to live a life of forgiveness.

Make it personal: Think about who you may be holding back forgiveness from today. Pray about it and ask the Lord to reveal to you what needs to happen to heal that wound and bring forth restoration.

Have a great week,
Glen Rhodes