I love the idea of being able to start over. A new calendar and each morning reminds me that I have another chance to do stuff the right way.
In fact, turning the page on my calendar each month has almost become a symbolic act – plus I’m ready for a new picture!
Anyway, I came across one of Jesus’ stories that reveals more of just why I like new beginnings so much: in Matthew 18, Jesus tells about a king who was trying to bring his accounts up to date. One of his servants owed millions and was unable to pay.
So the king demanded that he, his whole family and all he owned be sold in order to settle the debt.
Of course, the man fell at the king’s feet and begged for his patience, promising to pay all if only he had more time.
And, lo and behold, the king forgave the debt!
But the story continues: filled with gratitude and energy the now debt-free man leaves the king and finds a fellow servant who owes him a few thousand dollars, only to demand immediate payment.
His co-worker also begs for patience – and receives none. In fact the forgiven man has his debtor arrested and thrown into prison.
Sure enough, this dastardly act is observed and reported to the king, who calls the forgiven-man back into his presence, who now receives that which he has doled out to his co-worker.
So, does this story tell us that God “forgives” like we forgive? Certainly not!
We just heard the Good News from the Christmas story and that News is pictured in the king who forgave the first servant.
We are so tied to our own concepts of fairness, that it’s easy to project the usual tit-for-tat idea of fairness onto God, Himself.
Just glance back at the verse that precedes this story. Peter has asked how many times he has to forgive someone and feeling generous, he suggests 7.
But Jesus recommends a shocking number – 70 x 7, essentially saying, “Don’t keep track.”
I can only love and admire a God who demonstrates such patience with and willingness to “erase” my past mistakes, giving me another chance to “try again.”
Peggy Corbett is a member of the Seventh Day Adventist Church congregation.