During the Vietnam War, an airplane dropped napalm on a village. It left a young girl critically burned, but she survived. Years later, she said, “I have suffered a lot both physical and emotional pain, but God saved my life and gave me faith and hope. If I could talk to the pilot who dropped the bombs, I would say, ‘We cannot change the past, but we can do good in the present and promote peace for the future.” In Matthew 18, Peter asked Jesus how many times he should forgive his brother. Jesus explained that we should put no limit on how many times we forgive. Then Jesus told the story of the king whose servant owed him a debt of $12 million. Because the debtor could not pay, the king forgave him. But that same debtor went out, seized a fellow debtor by the throat, and demanded his money. He threw him into debtor’s prison until he repaid a debt of a few hundred dollars. When the king heard what he did, he sent the ungrateful man to prison to be tortured until he had paid his entire debt. Jesus then said, “That’s what my heavenly Father will do to you if you refuse to forgive your brothers and sisters from your heart.” Most of the violence and conflict in our world stems from a lack of forgiveness. God’s people can and should forgive each other because God has forgiven us a great debt we could not pay.
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