A modern parable based on Matthew 18:23-33
PATHWAY TO HIS PRESENCE
The young woman fell before her father and cried tears of anguish. She knew she had disappointed him. She had broken the rules he had taught her, and it seemed that life was over. Her confession had moved inside her heart for weeks, and finally she had admitted her sin to the one person she never wanted to disappoint.
“It just happened,” the 18-year-old daughter cried. “I knew he was married and had a family. It just happened. I am so sorry.”
Now a baby was on the way, and while this man made the decision to remain with his wife and children, she felt lost and betrayed. Her daddy screamed at her, his face turning red.
“You have disgraced our family. I never want to see you again!”
She fell on her knees, begging. “Please don’t disown me. Please. I’ll do anything.”
Something softened in her father. Suddenly, his mind flashed back to her childhood, to all of the joy she brought him. He took pity on her, reached down and pulled her up, and pulled her close to him.
“I can’t disown you. I just can’t. I forgive you. I love you.” Even as he spoke these words, he had no idea how they would work through this. He only knew they would work through it together.
That afternoon, the girl’s younger brother came in from school. At 16, he was always an aggravation to her, and as he passed by her, she remembered he had taken 20 dollars out of her pocketbook, finally admitting to it under his father’s scorn.
She scolded, “I want my money back! Where is it?”
“You’ll get it,” the younger brother said. “I’ve got part of it saved now, and I’m raking yards to get the rest.”
But, she was angry and adamant. “That’s not good enough! I need it now!”
She started screaming, her face turning red with rage.
“I wish you weren’t my brother. I never want to see you again!”
Stunned, the brother left the room just as her father entered.
“What is this all about?” her father demanded. “I forgave you because you begged me to. I showed mercy. Shouldn’t you show mercy to your brother, just as I showed mercy to you?”
And, that’s the way it works. When we truly recognize how completely Christ has forgiven us, we will have a free and generous attitude of forgiveness toward others. Because of our sinful nature, however, when someone has sinned against us, we quickly forget what Christ has done for us.
Who in your life has forgiven you, and the sweetness of mercy made a giant difference for you? And, who do you now hold a grudge against? The mercy of God should compel us to show that same mercy toward others.
If Christ has made a difference in your life, and you bask daily in the unbelievable truth of forgiveness for all you have done wrong, then you won’t be able to keep mercy away from those who have wronged you.
Is it easy? Gracious no. That’s why you need to pray this prayer: Dear Father, flow mercy inside of me toward others the way it flows inside of you toward me. In your Son’s name I pray, AMEN.
The Rev. B.J. Funk is associate pastor of Central UMC in Fitzgerald. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.