This Week's Story

Jesus, how many times should I forgive someone who keeps treating me unfairly?

This Week’s Story relives American history and the Bible through brief inspiring stories presented on mp3 audio recordings and text for reading.

Pay Me, or Else

“Jesus, how many times should I forgive someone who keeps treating me unfairly?  He knows he’s causing me trouble.  I’ve tried to ignore him.  I’ve talked to him and forgiven him, but he keeps messing with me.  I want a limit to how long he can hurt me and how many times I should forgive him.”

“Peter, you can’t forgive people by using a number.  But, if you want a number, here it is: 490 times.”

“I can’t keep track of that many times.”

“That’s the point.  Stop counting.  Let me tell you a story that will get you thinking about God’s forgiveness.

“There was a large successful company whose owner decided to collect on delinquent accounts. Bob Newton, a company executive, appeared to be successful.  People assumed he was wealthy.  Actually he was hugely in debt and had embezzled millions of dollars of company funds.  The owner called in the executive, ‘The funds you have taken need to be repaid.’”

“Mr. Rezmer, I do not have the money.”

“Then sell all your properties including your family home.”

Bob’s smooth manner disappeared. He pleaded, “Please, give me another chance. Let me make payments. I will find a way to repay all the money.”

The owner spoke calmly. “Bob, you have worked for me for twenty years.  You have received an excellent salary with a generous yearly bonus and stock options, but you took advantage of your access to company funds.  Due to your poor judgment, you now owe the company eleven million dollars.  You are liable for criminal charges.”

As he looked at Bob, he felt pity for him. Should he bring charges against him? Should he give him mercy?  If he did not have to pay back the money, would he change?  “Bob, I have decided that you do not need to repay your debt.”

The embezzler replied, “Thank you, Mr. Rezmer.”  As he hurried away he thought, Wouldn’t it be great to have the power to cancel a debt the size of what I took?  Rezmer doesn’t need the money I took or he would force me to repay his company.

Bob went to a fellow employee, who had borrowed $5,000.00 from him for sports supplies for the company basketball team.  “Rick, you need to pay up.  The money I gave you was not a gift. Settle the debt.”

“Bob, you know that’s not possible.  The Snacko Macko hasn’t made enough money to repay you.  Since I’m dealing with the foreclosure on my house, I can’t personally cover the debt.”

“Stop your excuses, Rick.  You will always have one.  I’m taking you to the company civil complaints board.”

When some friends of Rick, who also worked for the company, heard how Bob had treated Rick, they went to Mr. Rezmer.  After hearing their story he called on the company intercom, “Mr. Newton, you will come to my office.”

When Bob came, Mr. Rezmer was stern. “Bob, you learned nothing from my gift of mercy to you.  I gave you an opportunity.  You gave Rick a hopeless ultimatum.”

You know he can’t repay you any better than you can repay me.  Ironically, his debt is much less than what you owed me. You could have passed on forgiveness to Rick.  You could have started over with no criminal charges and no money owed to the company. These benefits are no longer available to you. I am turning you over to the authorities for your criminal behavior.  You will have the law to judge you.”

After telling this story, Jesus said, “Don’t think you will escape consequences if you refuse to forgive people in your heart.

This is Barbara Steiner with a contemporary version of a story Jesus told about forgiveness as found in Matthew 18 of the Bible.

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