Listen again to BBC Radio Ulster Thought For The Day

Till Keller tells a version of this story.

Shane was a professional investor who had done well picking stocks on the open market.

Puffed up with confidence he went to a wealthy friend Peter and asked him for an enormous loan of half a million pounds so that he could buy large stakes in various hot properties. He promised Peter a great return on his investment but instead of success, these companies went belly up and Shane went bust. When Peter realized what had happened, he went crazy and demanded that Shane repay him every penny that he had entrusted to him or else he would take him to court and land him in prison. Shane went to see Peter and burst into tears. “If you sue me for this amount, I will literally have nothing. Please, please forgive me” and amazingly Peter did forgive him. It was an astonishing act of mercy. Peter had literally lost a fortune because of Shane’s wrongdoing, but he forgave him, at huge cost to himself.

Shane’s friends were shocked when he told them of Peter’s magnanimity and generosity, but they were even more alarmed when they saw what Shane did next. One man in their circle of friends, Michael, had just been through a bruising divorce. His wife had got the house and custody of the children and Michael was living in a hostel with very little to his name.

“Hey” Shane said to Michael within days of his meeting with Peter: “I lent you £500 last year and I need it back now.”

‘You couldn’t ask me at a worse time,” said Michael. “I’m literally down to nothing. Please let me off the loan or at least give me some more time to pay you back”.

“What do you take me for,” laughed Shane. “If you don’t give me that money back by tomorrow you are a dead man”.

One of Michael’s friends was so appalled he contacted Peter and told him the whole story. Peter called Shane and said “Shouldn’t you have forgiven your friend his debt as I forgave yours? Tomorrow I’m going to file a lawsuit against you and let the courts deal with you”.

That story is called ‘The Parable of the Unforgiving Servant’ and was first told by Jesus.

“So, he concludes” So also my Heavenly Father will do to every one of you if you do not forgive your brother from your heart”.

Simply put, as Christ has been infinitely generous and forgiving our wrong doings through his sacrificial death for us on the cross, that’s how much we are to forgive other people as well.

 Easy? No!

Costly? Yes!

Vital? Most Certainly!

– Frank Sellar