Bible Reading: Matthew 18:21-35
Growing up, I used to be afraid of the saying “don’t let the sun go down on your anger’’ because I was such a sensitive child who used to take offence a lot. So typically, when people offend me, I would wallow in my anger and hurt all day, then towards the end of the day, I would “make” myself let the issue go and forgive the person because after all, the following day must not meet my anger still brewing. I thought this attribute made me so Christ-like, almost like I could win an award for the “Best in Forgiveness’’. The thing however is that the hurt and anger always seemed to fester anytime I thought of my offender. Like, if I claim to have forgiven this person, why do I still feel like shaving their eyebrows in their sleep (because I’m too Christian to do any actual harm to the person, lol)?
To be good stewards of relationships, we must remember that God is the ultimate owner of things; meaning that it is a gift from God for us to to have things, but it is His character to own things. Therefore, because we are God’s possession, everything we have belongs to Him, including our relationships. But how can we properly steward relationships if we do not have an understanding of how important relationships are in our walk with God? We need to understand that relationships are a major way God expresses His love to us, but when not handled properly, it can be a destructive tool in the hands of the enemy in distracting the Christian from their purpose; because what the enemy cannot destroy, he distracts.
As good stewards of relationships, we are not just called to be intentional about the people we let into our space, but when God blesses us with the gift of people, we must place value on the people that God has placed all around us and treat them as the image-bearers that they are. Sometimes, it feels like it is much easier to place value on things than it is to place value on people because things can’t hurt our feelings like people do, but offence is one of the biggest enemies of godly relationships. However, when we examine the life and times of Jesus Christ by whom we are called to live, we pick up cues and lessons from how He was able to deal with offence. If you look at the story of Jesus- the fact that God loved humanity so much that He decided to put on flesh just so that He can prove how intentional He is about showing us that He loves us- we can learn from His intentionality in that, when dealing with people, we must treat them how God treats us.
In our reading today, we discover that there is an expectation that God has of us when dealing with people. The servant in today’s reading held a debt against his fellow servant when he had just obtained mercy from his master for a much larger debt. This is symbolic of how humans treat one another in today’s age. We hold sins against people when we have received forgiveness from God for much graver sins. Therefore, in stewarding relationships, there is an expectation of intentionality and forgiveness that God expects of us in handling and letting go of offence. It’s not about forcing yourself to let go of the hurt that someone causes you because the “sun is about to set”, but about deliberately relying on the Holy Spirit to help you truly be Christ-like in extending the same grace to others that God has extended to you. When Peter asked Jesus “how often we are expected to forgive?” in Matthew 18:21 and Jesus replied “…seventy times seven times’’, Jesus was referring to a continuous act of forgiveness, not necessarily a definite figure for how many times we should forgive. For every measure of offence, there must be a reciprocal measure of grace attached to it; then can we truly love, cherish and steward relationships according to Christ’s example. So the next time you’re tempted to hold that grudge, or begrudgingly sweep things under the carpet knowing fully well that ignoring the offence doesn’t equate forgiveness; think of how God extended grace to you and remember that because God has, you can.
In Prayer Today
Pray today for God to help you extend the same grace that He has extended to you to people around you
Inioluwa volunteers with the Bible Engagement team at Sycamore
Because God has, I can. Thanks Inioluwa.
A big reminder of God’s intentionality and what that means in my own relationships with people. Thank you Ini.
Ignoring the offence doesn’t equate forgiveness.
Forgiveness is a continuous act not a one time act.
Amen thank you so much for this