Many women who experience punishment or consequences as a result of displeasing their husband are told by said husband, churches, pastors, family and friends that they are unforgiving. “The Bible says to forgive seventy times seven. If you don’t forgive, you’re the one holding a grudge.”
There are a lot of things packed into the word, “forgive,” and even more unspoken expectations in our concept of what forgiveness looks like. The same was true in Jesus’ day. How did He respond? Check it out:
“For this reason the kingdom of heaven [note–the kingdom of heaven, not the kingdom of men] may be compared to a king [Jesus] who wished to settle accounts with his slaves [people]. When he had begun to settle them, one who owed him ten thousand talents [insert: husband] was brought to him. But since he did not have the means to repay [righteousness/perfection], his lord [Jesus] commanded him to be sold, along with his wife and children and all that he had [substitute more precious possessions to this particular individual: reputation, job, approval of others, control, power, desire to rule–he would lose it all], and repayment to be made [restitution, rebuild trust and relationship, think of and treat her as a mutual partner, not a lesser one].
So the slave [husband] fell to the ground and prostrated himself before him [Jesus], saying, ‘Have patience with me and I will repay you everything.’ [‘I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’ll do whatever it takes! Please, please, no consequences.’]
And the lord of that slave [Jesus] felt compassion and released him [the husband]and forgave him [the husband] the debt. But that slave [the husband] went out and found one of his fellow slaves [wife] who owed him a hundred denarii; and he seized him [her] and began to choke him [her], saying, ‘Pay back what you owe.’ So his fellow slave [his wife] fell to the ground and began to plead with him, saying, ‘Have patience with me and I will repay you.’ But he was unwilling and went and threw him [her] in prison [under lock and key, swaying absolute control, punishment, consequences with or without reason] until he [she] should pay back what was owed [which she never could because he is an imperfect lord/master].
So when his fellow slaves [family, friends, church members] saw what had happened, they were deeply grieved and came and reported to their lord [Jesus] all that had happened.
Then summoning him, his lord * [Jesus] said to him [the husband], ‘You wicked slave, I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow slave, in the same way that I had mercy on you?’ And his lord [Jesus], moved with anger, handed him over to the torturers until he should repay all that was owed him. My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart.” (Matthew 18:23-35)
So I ask, who is unforgiving?