I've been reading a great book on forgiveness by Ray Pritchard, it's entitled "The Healing Power Of Forgiveness" I had not heard much about Ray Pritchard until a recent broadcast of Back to The Bible. The entire week was dedicated to the subject of forgiveness, you can check out the archives at backtothebible.org.
This book has a lot of great insight on forgiveness, the chapter entitled "Seventy Times Seven" taken from Matthew 18:21-35 the parable of the unforgiving servant. In the story Jesus speaks with Peter regarding how many times he should forgive his brother. Peter thought that he was being rather generous since the Jewish rabbis taught that people should forgive those who offend them, but only three times. Jesus answers Peter with a radical thought, not seven times but seventy times seven. In other words we shouldn't keep track, as Pritchard puts it "Peter's heart was in the right place, but his attitude was wrong. He wanted to put a legal limit on forgiveness. He wanted a number, a limit, a place where he could finally say,"No more Mr. Nice Guy."
We're the same way, we want to extend forgiveness and be "good" and right, you know...we have it all together, we haven't done anything too bad....lately. Jesus goes on to explain further about forgiveness in verses 23-35 of Matthew, it's the parable of the unforgiving debtor. Something that Pritchard points out is that the unforgiving servant was found out by the king who had just forgiven this huge amount that was owed him and, "consequently, there's no forgiveness this time. The king won't be conned again, the Bible says he called for his torturers and handed the man over to them "until he should pay back all he owed." (v. 34)
The scary part of this parable is that Jesus goes on to explain in v. 35 that this is how our Heavenly Father will treat us if we don't forgive our brother who "owes" us or has offended in some way. Pritchard gives a great analogy of the torturers that we're turned over to, "the hidden torturers of anger, and bitterness, which eat your insides out." a pretty graphic example of what bitterness and unforgiveness will produce in us. I want to be more forgiving and less fault finding, Jesus has forgiven so much of us how can we not want to do the same. Father help us to do that.