The Power of Perspective

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The Power of Perspective

By Grant Gaines

To some, running is a pleasant way to enjoy the great outdoors while getting a nice workout in. To most, however, running is a terrible form of cruel and unusual punishment. The thought of mindlessly putting one foot in front of the other over a prolonged period of time at an escalated pace just baffles their minds. They reason, “Why run when you could walk or drive somewhere?” It just doesn’t make any sense.

Enter one of America’s favorite sweethearts – Forrest Gump. If you’ve ever seen the movie Forrest Gump you’ll recall that Forrest spent the majority of his childhood in highly restrictive leg braces that greatly hindered his mobility. One day, however, after being chased by some local bullies Forrest broke free from his leg braces and sprinted away to safety.

That day changed everything for Forrest. The man who was once regulated to a slow walk from Point A to Point B was now able to run freely without any restrictions. This newfound freedom was so pleasurable to Forrest that he went on a run one day and continued to run 3 years, 2 months, 14 days, and 16 hours during which he ran across the entire country multiple times simply because he loved running so much.

Running was so enjoyable to Forrest Gump because he remembered the times in his life when he was unable to do so. It was because of this perspective that Forrest jogged with so much joy. This is the general idea Jesus was trying to get across to His audience when He told a parable in Matthew 18.

As Jesus began telling the story in Matthew 18, the audience is quickly introduced to an unfortunate man who is up a preverbal creek without a paddle. Whether it was from poor budgeting habits, a couple of luxurious family vacations, or a few too many trips to the shopping mall, this man was indebted to the king ten a thousand bags of gold which amounted to 20 years of a day laborer’s income (Matthew 18:24)! I don’t know about you, but I don’t have 20 years’ worth of income just laying around in my bank account just in case!

As you could imagine, this man couldn’t afford to pay back the king which by law required, “[the man] and his wife and his children and all that he had to be sold to repay the debt” (Matthew 18:25, NIV). Yikes! Talk about some serious late payment penalties!

“[Upon hearing his sentence] the servant fell on his knees before [the king].’Be patient with me,’ [the servant] begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go” (Matthew 18:26-27, NIV).

Not only did the king grant the servant’s request to avoid a jail sentence while the servant worked to repay the debt, the king actually canceled the debt entirely. The servant walked into the day with an unfathomable amount of debt and went to bed that night debt-free. He had received the kindest of gestures from his master.

If this were a Disney movie, the story would end right here with a happily-ever-after type ending. Unfortunately, Jesus wasn’t telling His followers a cute, family-friendly bedtime story. Rather, the story continued by saying that as soon as the servant walked out from the king’s presence, he saw a man who owed him a small amount of money – no more than 100 silver coins (roughly 1/70 of what this man owned the king just moments before)– and demanded the man pay him back. When the indebted man explained that he was unable to do so, the recently forgiven man ignored the mercy he had just received and threw the man into jail until the entire debt could be paid off (Matthew 18:28-30).

When the king heard of this act, he was understandably outraged! He seized the man he had forgiven and laid into him – “’You wicked servant,’ [the king] said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you? ‘In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed” (Matthew 18:32-34, NIV).

Jesus concluded this parable with these sobering words in Matthew 18:35 (NIV), “This is how My Heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”

Yikes, that’s a scary warning right there. Unless we forgive others, we will miss out on God’s forgiveness for ourselves. Jesus repeats this idea in Matthew 6:12 (NIV) when He taught His disciples how to pray by saying, “Forgive our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” In other words, Jesus is telling His disciples that they should ask the Father to forgive their sins with to the same degree that they forgave others.

Are you ok with that? That God would forgive you sins with the same urgency and totality that you forgive others who wrong you? If you’re anything like me, that’s a scaryyy thought!

So how do we truly forgive others in a manner that is worthy of God’s forgiveness? We simply maintain perspective. Wasn’t that the servant’s problem in the parable Jesus told in Matthew 18? He forgot how much he had been forgiven and therefore didn’t offer any forgiveness to his fellow servant. If he had only remembered the vast debt he had been forgiven just moments earlier, forgiving a small little sum of money would have been no problem at all, wouldn’t you agree?

The same mindset should be adopted by us as believers. We must not forget the depth and cost of our sins before we begin to judge others for whatever wrong they have done to us. What could anyone do to us that is any worse in quality or quantity compared to what we have done to God? Nothing! God forgave a debt that we could never repay so that we could forgive whatever debt someone might have against us.

We forgive because we remember His forgiveness. It’s that plain and simple. Does that mean that it will always be easy to forgive someone who as wronged you? Nope, not at all. But it does make it a whole lot easier to forgive someone when you remember that you have been forgiven a million times over.

Have you thanked God for His forgiveness recently?

Comments? Questions? Suggestions?
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©Grant Gaines 2017


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