Keeping count not true forgiveness

Act of Faith column

We don’t often hear good news in the media, but the return of three-year-old Kienan Hebert is definitely that.

Some are calling it a miracle.

The RCMP media spokesman in Sparwood said that in 26 years of police work he has never seen or heard of a case ending like this.

And, thankfully, they have tracked down and arrested the suspected abductor, hiding in an old mining cabin in southwest Alberta.

There were several good things about this abduction case, not the least of which was to see hundreds of people rally together in support of the family and some from quite a distance away, who came to assist in the search for the boy.

But to me, one of the best things was the response of Kienan’s parents, in that they immediately, upon his return, forgave the suspected abductor, showing an inner transformation that can only and authentically come from God.

Forgiveness releases the hold and power of the offender and brings wholeness to the forgiver.

The Bible records in the Gospels of the New Testament that one day Peter asked Jesus how many times a person should forgive another.

Seven times?

Jesus replied, “Seventy-seven times.”

Nobody could possibly keep track of such a high number of offenses. And that’s the point.

Keeping count has nothing to do with true forgiveness.

Forgiveness is one of the most profound Christian qualities.

Without forgiveness, we wouldn’t have Christianity as we know it.

Without forgiveness, we would all be doomed to hell, condemned sinners without hope of any kind.

Having a proper understanding and application of forgiveness will transform our relationship with God, with others and with ourselves.

Jesus told a parable to illustrate this.

There was a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servant. The servant was likely a man of high rank, a provincial governor or satrap. He was a man with a family, but was deeply in debt – owing 10,000 talents – the largest measure of money in the Roman world.

This servant owed a debt that was, for all practical purposes, unpayable.

It makes you wonder how he could’ve gotten into that much debt.

The king ordered that the servant, his possessions and his family be sold, with the proceeds to be paid against the debt – which, of course, wouldn’t have covered a fraction of it.

Both the magnitude of the debt and the enormity of the punishment are intended to stagger the imagination.

So the servant was in big trouble. His only hope was in the possibility of the king’s goodness and mercy.

In an incredible gesture of pardon, the king freely forgave the servant’s debt.

No replacement plan was instituted; the king was willing to absorb the loss himself, simply for the sake of showing compassion and mercy to a helpless servant.

This is an illustration of what God does on behalf of every sinner who repents; the servant represents everyone before they come to Christ.

We were all dead in sin with an overwhelming unpayable debt (He paid a debt he did not owe; we owed a debt we could not pay).

But the grace and compassion of a loving heavenly Father intervened on our behalf, offering His only Son on the cross to die in our place.

As a result, He not only forgives sin’s guilt, but He elevates the sinner to a position of incomprehensible and utterly undeserved favour.

It can be yours if you will believe and follow Christ.

Les Warriner is the pastor of Living Way Foursquare Church in Maple Ridge.

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