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Out of the box
Out of the box
When you hear the phrase, “out-of-the-box,” that phrase refers to something that is quite different than the ordinary. When you are at work and the boss says, “Give me some out-of-the-box ideas,” what the boss would mean is “give me something that isn’t ordinary, give me something that is going to make people sit up and take notice.”
One could say that God’s model for forgiveness is “out-of-the-box.” After all, based on our simple human logic and understanding, God’s promise to forgive all our sins—yes, even that sin—seems impossible. It seems “out-of-the-box.”
We can be reminded of God’s full forgiveness when we look at Christ’s parable of the Unmerciful Servant (Matthew 18:21-35). In the parable, the servant had a debt of several million dollars. It was an insurmountable debt. After the master ordered the servant, his wife, and his children be sold to repay the debt, the servant gets on his knees and says, “Be patient with me, he begged, and I will pay back everything.” But, there was no way he would ever be able to pay back the master.
Like the servant, our sins pile up to an insurmountable debt to our loving Savior, but like the master, God stamps all believers with “paid in full.” We are liberated from our sins and the punishment we deserve for them through faith in Christ Jesus.
Christ’s illustration doesn’t end there, though. He continues to tell us what the servant did after he was released from his debt: “But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me,’ he demanded. His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him. ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.’ But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt.” After the servant was just released from his humongous debt, he will not release someone else from just a little debt.
Think about your life. Have we ever blown our top at someone who did something wrong against us. How dare them. We are driving home from work and a person cuts us off. We angrily honk the horn. Or someone betrays your trust? See if you talk to them again. There are going to be times when people don’t treat us properly and respectfully. There are going to be times people are unkind and cruel. And there may even be times when someone intentionally tries to hurt us. In all these situations are we to forgive? Yes.
It may seem “out-of-the-box” for our human nature to forgive those who wrong us, but that’s the model Christ demonstrated for us. Christ’s forgiveness is liberating, freeing us to live with him in heaven, freeing us from the personal guilt of our sins, and also freeing us to live lives as children of God as we forgive those who sin against us. Are you going to hold on to the grudge, seethe with resentment, and wish the worst for that person? Then you aren’t free, are you? Your lack of forgiveness to another person, is, in fact, holding only you hostage. Go back to the cross of Christ. Realize he paid for every last one of your sins, and as you have been blessed to be personally forgiven, that forgiveness enables you to forgive. Let go. Forgive. Be liberated.
Thankfully, God’s ways are “out-of-the-box,” liberating us through his forgiveness and through our forgiveness of others.
By Rev. Keith Free, administrator for Home Missions
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