What does God say about not forgiving?

Forgiven seven times

Albert Schweitzer, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate in 1952, once wrote the following:


`` So Peter came up to him and asked, Lord, how often must I forgive my brother who sins against me? Is it enough seven times? ''
(Matt. 18:21)


As soon as you get up in the morning and stand in front of your hut, someone whom everyone knows to be angry comes along and insults you. Because the Lord Jesus says to forgive, you keep silent instead of starting the palaver.

Afterwards, the neighbour's goat will eat you the bananas that should be your lunch. Instead of quarreling with your neighbor, you just tell him that it was his goat and that it would be fair if he replaced the bananas for you. But if he then contradicts and claims that it was not his goat, you go away quietly and remember that the good Lord is growing so many bananas for you in your plantation that you do not need to start an argument about them.

Afterwards the man comes to whom you gave ten bunches of bananas to sell at the market with his own, and only brings you the money for nine. You say that is not enough. But he replies that you miscounted and gave him only nine tufts. You want to shout in his face that he is a liar, but then you have to think about how many lies that only you know that God has to forgive you, and go quietly into your hut.

When you start the fire, you will notice that someone has stolen the wood that you fetched from the forest yesterday and that should be enough for you to cook for a week. Once again you force your heart to forgive and refrain from checking all the neighbors to see who could have your wood and suing the chief with the thief.

In the afternoon when you set off to work in the plantation, you discover that someone has taken your good machete and put his old, jagged one in its place. You know who it is because you recognize the machete. You think that you've forgiven four times and that you want to do it a fifth time as well. Even though it was a day that you had a lot of uncomfortable things, you feel so happy that it is one of the happiest. Why? Because your heart is happy that it obeyed the will of the Lord Jesus.

In the evening you want to go fishing. You reach for the torch that's supposed to be in the corner of the hut, but it's not there. Then the anger comes over you and you think that you have forgiven enough today and that you now want to ambush him who went fishing with your torch. But once again the Lord Jesus becomes Master of your heart. You go down to the bank with a torch borrowed from your neighbor.

There you discover that your boat is not there. Another went fishing with it. You angrily hide behind a tree to wait for whoever did this to you and plan to steal all the fish from him on his return and to sue him from the district captain that he must pay you a fine, as is right . But while you wait, your heart starts talking. It always repeats the saying of Jesus that God cannot forgive us our sins if we do not forgive people. The wait lasts so long that the Lord Jesus will once again become Master over you. Instead of going at the other with your fists, when he finally returns at the gray of day and falls down in fear as you step out from behind the tree, you tell him that the Lord Jesus is forcing you to forgive him and let him go calmly. You don't even ask him for the fish if he doesn't give them to you of his own free will. But I think he'll give it to you, amazed that you won't start an argument with him.

Now you go home, happy and proud that you have brought yourself to forgive seven times. But if on that day the Lord Jesus came to your village and you came up to him and said that he would praise you for it in front of everyone, then he would say to you, as he did to Peter, that seven times is not enough, but that you seven times again and one more time, and one more time, and many more times, until God can forgive you of your many sins.

Albert Schweitzer

(From a letter from Albert Schweizer from Lambarene, quoted from: Martin Haug, Der Gute Weg, Stories about the Ten Commandments, J. F. Steinkopf, Stuttgart 1955, pp. 178-180)


21 Then Peter came to him and asked, Lord, how often must I forgive my brother who sins against me? Is it enough seven times? 22 Jesus said to him, I tell you, not seven times, but seventy times seven times. 23 Therefore the kingdom of heaven is like a king trying to settle accounts with his servants. 24 And when he began to settle accounts, someone was brought before him who owed him ten thousand talents of silver. 25 Since he could not pay for it, the Lord ordered him and his wife and children and everything he had to be sold and paid for. 26 The servant fell at his feet and implored him, saying, Be patient with me; I want to pay you for everything. 27 So the Lord had mercy on this servant and set him free, and forgave him the debt. 28 So this servant went out and met one of his fellow servants, who owed him a hundred silver groschen; and he seized and strangled him, and said, Pay what you owe me. 29 His fellow servant fell down and prayed, saying, Have patience with me; I want to pay you 30 He did not want to, but went and threw him in prison until he had paid what he owed. 31 But when his fellow servants saw this, they were very distressed and came and told their master everything that had happened. 32 Then his master called for him and said to him, You wicked servant! I forgave you all your debt because you asked me; 33 Shouldn't you have taken pity on your fellow servant, as I had pity on you? 34 And his master was angry and handed him over to the tormentors until he had paid all that he owed him. 35 My heavenly Father will do the same to you, if you do not forgive one another from your heart, each to his brother.
(Matt. 18: 21-35)


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