Psalm 25 is a great pre-reading text to prepare the reader for Matthew 18. The Psalmist is shaped by God’s great mercy and love and is appealing to God’s goodness from of old. God has a history track, one that is consistent through and through.
One principle to constantly keep in mind when reading the Bible is to remember the big storyline and major themes, especially as it relates to God’s character. For this gospel text, I’m thinking about God’s compassion, justice, and his covenant faithfulness to us.
The Gospel passage is about having a heart of forgiveness, one that mirrors God’s compassion and covenant faithfulness. That’s why it’s somewhat ridiculous that Peter is asking how many times he should forgive someone. I think that’s why Jesus’ response is a bit cheeky. And yet Jesus uses the opportunity to share a story about a forgiving heart.
I’ll confess that I have a hard time forgiving others who continue the same patterns towards me. But God’s covenant faithfulness and mercy call me to be FOR and UNTO them.
In marriage, the goal is to keep our eyes on God’s character so that we might reflect it in our relationship. Too many times, I’ve seen the speck in my spouses eye and am fixated on it. There is no mercy or compassion on my part. I’m right. She’s wrong. Fix it! I’ll be honest, it’s exhausting to be like this. And my wife doesn’t feel any sense of compassion or understanding. She feels a “self-righteous” spouse. And I’m self-righteous mostly when I’m afraid to share my own pain and losses. I turn inward, not showing myself any mercy, and then turn outward with self-anger towards the other. Not a good cycle.
But God’s mercy is tender, compassionate, and just. His anger over sin and brokenness last but a moment. But His love is enduring. We need more imaginative prayer and thought life over His covenant faithfulness to us. It should seep into our words, feelings, and inner movements! The truth that we are the beloved and are called His own melt away my fears and projections, causing me to see God’s covenantal love and faithfulness.