Join us today for an episode about the reason we ask how many times we need to forgive...
Today's episode is focused on Exodus 14: 19-31 and Matthew 18: 21-35...
In today’s Spiritual Foundation Episode, I talk about both Exodus 14: 19-31 and Matthew 18: 21-35. I share how we all owe a debt we can never pay, but still choose to not forgive others their debt. I also talk about how judgment when it happens shouldn’t be celebrated and isn’t up to us.
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Episode 1357: How Many Times?
[00:00:00] Scott Maderer: Thanks for joining me on episode 1, 357 of the Inspired Stewardship Podcast.
[00:00:07] Michael Flynn: Hey, this is Mike Flynn, and it's been an honor to be here with you all. I challenge you to invest in yourself, to invest in others, to develop your influence and impact the world using your time, your talent, and your treasure to live out your calling.
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[00:00:51] Scott Maderer: It's astronomically out of balance and everyone reacts and gets angry about it and they go back to the king and they tell him [00:01:00] they're And the king throws him in jail to be tortured until he can pay the entire debt, which, by the way, is never, remember? There's no possible way that the slave could pay this entire debt.
[00:01:13] Welcome, and thank you for joining us on the Inspired Stewardship Podcast. If you truly desire to become the person who God wants you to be, then you must learn to use your time, your talent, and your treasures for your true calling. In the Inspired Stewardship Podcast, you will learn to invest in yourself, invest in others, and develop your influence so that you,
[00:01:45] In today's Spiritual Foundation episode, I talk about both Exodus chapter 14, verses 19 through 31, and Matthew chapter 18, verses 21 through 35. I share how we all owe a debt we can never pay, but still [00:02:00] choose to not forgive others their debt. And I also talk about how judgment, when it happens, shouldn't be celebrated and isn't up to us anyway.
[00:02:09] Exodus chapter 14 says, The angel of God who was going before the Israelite army moved and went behind them, and the pillar of cloud moved in front of them and took its place behind them. It came between the army of Egypt and the army of Israel. And so the cloud was there with the darkness, and it lit up the night.
[00:02:28] One did not come near the other all night. Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea. The Lord drove the sea back by a strong east wind all night and turned the sea into dry land, and the waters were divided. The Israelites went into the sea on dry ground, the waters forming a wall for them on the right and on their left.
[00:02:47] The Egyptians pursued and went into the sea after them, all of Pharaoh's horses, chariots, and chariot drivers. At the morning watch, the Lord in the pillar of fire and cloud looked down upon the Egyptian army and threw the [00:03:00] Egyptian army into panic. He clogged their chariot wheels so that they turned with difficulty.
[00:03:05] The Egyptians said, Let us flee from the Israelites, for the Lord is fighting for them against Egypt. Then the Lord said to Moses, Stretch out your hand over the sea so that the water may come back upon the Egyptians, upon their chariots and chariot drivers. So Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and at dawn the sea returned to its normal depth.
[00:03:24] As the Egyptians fled before it, the Lord tossed the Egyptians into the sea. The waters returned and covered the chariots and the chariot drivers. The entire army of the Pharaoh that had followed them into the sea, not one of them remained. But the Israelites walked on dry ground through the sea, and the waters forming a wall for them on their right and on their left.
[00:03:44] Thus the Lord saved Israel that day from the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore. Israel saw the great work that the Lord did against the Egyptians, so the people feared the Lord and believed in the Lord and in his servant Moses. [00:04:00] Matthew chapter 18 verses 21 through 35 says, Then Peter came and said to him, Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive?
[00:04:11] As many as seven times? And Jesus said to him, Not seven times, but I tell you, seventy seven times. For this reason, the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. When he began the reckoning, one who owed him 10, 000 talents was brought to him. And as he could not pay, his Lord ordered him to be sold, together with his wife and children and all his possessions, and payment to be made.
[00:04:36] So the slave fell on his knees before him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything. And out of pity for him, the Lord of that slave released him and forgave him the debt. But that same slave, as he went out, came upon one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred denarii, and seizing him by the throat, he said, Pay what you owe.
[00:04:54] Then his fellow slave fell down and pleaded with him, Have patience with me, and I will pay you. But he [00:05:00] refused, and then he went and threw him into prison until he would pay the debt. When his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their lord all that had taken place.
[00:05:10] Then his Lord summoned him and said to him, You wicked slave! I forgive you all the debt because you pleaded with me. Should you not have had mercy on your fellow slave as I had mercy on you? In his anger, his Lord handed him over to be tortured until he would pay his entire debt. So my Heavenly Father will also do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother or sister from your heart.
[00:05:33] I love the irony of how the lectionary puts together Exodus chapter 14, which is that recounting of the Egyptian army being swallowed up by the sea and retribution for enslaving and chasing the Hebrews with Matthew 18, which is an account of Jesus's call upon us to unlimited forgiveness. Often what ends up happening is people ignore one of those verses and just preach [00:06:00] on one of them and ignore the other.
[00:06:02] because that seems easier. In fact, usually they pick the Matthew one. That's the one that we always talk about. How Jesus is talking about reconciliation, how he abides with those who agree, who live in community. And then Peter comes up and he says, Hey Jesus suppose somebody in the family, one of these other people in the community does something really bad to me.
[00:06:27] How often should I forgive them? It says sins against me, but it's some sort of breach of covenant, some sort of offense against a brother or sister. And Peter says, as many as seven times? The teachers actually at that time would say, you have to forgive three times if you're following the law. So Peter expanded upon that and says seven times, and you get the feeling that he's almost waiting for Jesus to say something like forgiveness is a good thing, but let's not get [00:07:00] carried away.
[00:07:00] Three is good. Four, way above board. Seven, don't be ridiculous. But instead, Jesus says 77 times, or in other translations, he says 70 times seven. Doesn't matter, it's not about math, it's about grace. Jesus isn't actually giving you a checklist where you can sit there with a counter and go, I've forgiven once, I've forgiven twice, I've forgiven whatever.
[00:07:24] The point is he's trying to use hyperbole and say there isn't a limit here. This is infinite grace. This is a different way of looking at forgiveness and reality. It's not about following the rules. It's not about following the law It's not about measuring the slights against us instead. It's about living into the grace that is offered by offering that grace to other Instead of looking for things that separate us or different we look for the ways that we can come together It's a different way of living And then [00:08:00] Jesus goes on and tells a parable to try to explain why.
[00:08:05] It's one of those stories that at some level is ridiculous and funny, but it's also really interesting at the root. So the king calls in a slave that owes them 10, 000 talents. Talents is a form of money, and different translations of what it means, but basically it's somewhere what a large nation would produce as their GDP.
[00:08:33] It's 150, 000 years of average wages. Regardless of the exact translation and the exact amount, the point is it's an overwhelming amount of debt. There's no way a slave could have amassed that. And the governor's response is, be patient, I'll pay you everything. How long would it take to pay back 150,000 years of average wage wages?[00:09:00]
[00:09:00] But the king looks at him and goes no, it's okay. I'll forgive you. Then the slave goes back out and stumbles across somebody that owes him a hundred Ari. And a denari is about a day's wage. So a hundred denari is about a hundred days worth of pavement. Not an insignificant amount of money, but compared to what the original slave owed, it's 54 million to 100 million.
[00:09:28] It's astronomically out of balance. And everyone reacts and gets angry about it, and they go back to the king and they tell him there, and the king throws him in jail to be tortured until he can pay the entire debt, which by the way is never, remember? There's no possible way that the slave could pay this entire debt.
[00:09:47] debt. So what's the point that we're all in debt, that we've all been set free from an astronomical debt that we could never, ever pay? [00:10:00] That salvation is being set free to live as if we're part of the kingdom of God or the kingdom of God, the community of God? If that's true, then our default operating position should be one of forgiveness and grace.
[00:10:20] That's the invitation that seems to be made here. Not to count how many times we should forgive someone, not to look at this as a magic number or a way of walking away or maybe even getting vengeance or judgment or attacking someone else.
[00:10:38] He's not saying sit there and take it and just stay in harm's way, but he is saying you've got to let it go. You can't hold on to that anger. You can escape from Egypt, you can be set free from suffering, but it's not about what you do about it. It's about moving on from [00:11:00] it. And that's what the passage in Exodus is about.
[00:11:05] Here, Egypt the Hebrews are escaping from Egypt and they're in the care of God. And here, this army that's following them gets wiped out. And at some level, I think, especially in modern times, we look at this and we go, See, they got what they deserved. See, the wicked people should pay. There's a harsh reality here that shows that we can hold on to our righteous anger and judge those against us and when they do us harm, God will kill them all.
[00:11:40] The truth is, this sort of reality of Exodus here compared to this one of forgiveness is interesting because notice God is the primary actor in the event. of revenge. This is [00:12:00] not the Hebrew people turned around and fought the army and conquered the people. This, Moses didn't even choose to lower his hand.
[00:12:08] God tells him, lower your hand. God tells Moses to raise his hand. God tells the Israelites where to go. We're being called for us to let go and forgive and move on. If there's judgment to be had, if there's vengeance to be had, it belongs to God, not to us. Because we're not capable of holding on to hate and vengeance at the same time that we hold on to love.
[00:12:39] Only God is. Thanks for listening.
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In today's episode, I talk with you about:
Then Peter came and said to him, "Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?" Jesus said to him, "Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times. – Matthew 18: 21-22