Tales of Forgiveness
L. K. Stevenson
When you pray say, …forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.
You have heard the story told of the unforgiving servant? This man was forgiven a great debt yet he would not forgive his fellow who owed him a few paltry pennies. The miserable skinflint got his just deserts when his forgiving master heard what he had done. Here is the story of another who showed great kindness when dealing with his fellows.
She looked perplexed as she entered the store frowning at the papers she held in her hand and would have collided with the sales assistant had he not spoken, “Can I help you ma’am?”
“Oh …Sorry,” she was startled and looked up. “I am not sure what this is all about but I think there must be a mistake.” She held out the papers she had been fretting over which the sales assistant accepted.
A quick glance at the first page brought a smile to his face, “Excuse me ma’am, I won’t be a moment.” Withdrawing to the office he left her banging her handbag against her knees and looking around impatiently. In a short while the businessman appeared, approached and greeted her and beckoned her to his office. He showed her to an easy chair and offered a cup of tea and she accepted.
“I don’t understand my bill,” she blurted, pointing at the offending papers.
“Its simple,” he replied, “It is an act of my faith.”
“Yes I understand you’re religious, but it’s preposterous! I couldn’t afford to give away two hundred and seventy dollars just like that.”
There was silence for a moment. The businessman looked grieved by this response to his charitableness, “My dear, obviously you are not aware of the great sacrifice Jesus made to pay the debt for our sins. I hope you won’t turn my generosity down.”
“Phuh!” she argued. “I know many Christians and none of them would have done this. You’re in business to make money …you don’t have to you know.”
“Yes,” responded the businessman, “I don’t have to …but I want to. That’s the difference.”
There was further silence. She picked up the cover note, relaxed in the chair, and went over its contents yet again. It read,
Isn’t this a pleasant surprise? Your bill has been PAID IN FULL.
I hope you won’t be offended when I tell you that I have done this because Jesus did it for me (and you too!). It matters not whether things are tight or not, its always pleasant to gain a little bit of help isn’t it? It would be a shame to “look a gift horse in the mouth” and turn down such an offer.
It seems more incredible to turn down Jesus’ own offer. Where will you spend eternity? Will you accept Jesus’ offer to go to heaven or reject it? He paid the debt for your sin in full when he died on the cross and now gives hope to all through his resurrection, not because he HAD TO but because he WANTED TO!
Why not accept Jesus’ offer [and mine] and put your trust in him? It simply says, “If we will accept and say that we are sinners he is faithful and can be trusted to forgive our sins and clean the unrighteousness out of us.” That is all we need to do.
Please accept our generosity,
“I just don’t get it,” she spoke her thoughts, “Nobody does these things!”
The businessman chuckled, “You can’t say that because I just did.”
“Yes,” she responded, “And you’ve given me a lot to think about. I’ve never bothered with church, always considered it boring or fanatical, but this is not about church, it’s about me. It’s what I need. God only knows I’d rather go to heaven than that other place if it’s real anyway.”
“The only way to be sure,” he prompted, “Is to accept Jesus’ offer.”
“Yes I know. It’s not a bet both ways, is it? If you accept you win if you don’t you lose. If I knock back your offer I’ll be two hundred and seventy dollars poorer. Sounds silly, I know. Well I know what I need to do so, let’s do it.”
Some time later she left happier than when she had come in.
Weeks after this an angry man bumped his way into the shop, barged into the owner’s office, and slammed some papers covered with five one hundred dollar notes down on the desk.
“I don’t need you to pay my bills or your religion!” he yelled and bashed his way out again.
Sighing, the businessman picked the bill and payment off his desk, turned and withdrew a folder from his filing cabinet, and pushed the money and dockets into it. The title of the burgeoning file read, “Jesus rejected again.”
Placing it on the desk and covering it with his hands he prayed, “Father, please forgive them, they don’t understand.” He then returned the folder to the filing cabinet.
An unsaved friend who had been impressed with the businessman’s attitude woke one morning to find he had won the major prize in the country’s largest lotto. At first he sat in stunned silence, contemplating what to do with his enormous win.
“Not that I really need it,” he thought, “Or deserve it for that matter. Old mate would be far more deserving than me; he’s always so good and generous to those around him. He upsets some, though, because he keeps talking of Jesus. I’d give it to him except I know he wouldn’t accept it. Wonder what he would do with it if he were in my shoes?” His imagination drifted silently on, picturing what the businessman might do with such a sum. Finally he rose without a word, donned his hat, pulled on his coat and left through the front door.
He arrived at the local newsagent early and browsed the shop at leisure, appearing undecided on his next action. After a while business in the newsagents picked up and he almost mechanically walked toward the exit where he confronted a man just entering.
“Excuse me sir,” he interrupted his progress. “I hold in my hand the winning lotto ticket and I would like you to have it.”
The man looked at him incredulously. “Huh? Yeah, sure! What do you take me for, some kind of fool?” he retorted, brushing him aside. The other looked at his back in total disbelief.
After a while it seemed no one would believe that he was actually holding and offering the winning ticket but further opportunity came as an anxious looking gentleman entered the store. His face was creased with worries, his shoulders drooped and he almost shuffled as he came to the newsstand.
The businessman’s friend was not aware that this man was grievously troubled and contemplating suicide due to a failed business venture and pending family collapse, he only saw another man he could offer the ticket to. The troubled one was so preoccupied with his woes that he hardly heard what was on offer and was merely grateful for a little kindness being shown. Barely lifting his head to face his benefactor, he muttered, “Uh, thank you.” Took the ticket and proceeded to the counter. As though he had seen and done enough that generous man left to seek out his friend the businessman.
When that poor, troubled heart waited at the counter and heard that he had just received the winning ticket he was overjoyed at this unexpected turn in his life. He practically leapt around the shop seeking the man who gave him that ticket but he was nowhere to be found. Unable to contain himself he phoned home on his mobile to tell his family the good news. You can imagine the healing that came to that family as a result.
Meanwhile our generous friend arrived at the businessman’s home looking rather perplexed. Unsure what had caused his anxiety the businessman invited him in for a cup of coffee.
“I’ve just done the weirdest thing and it’s all because of you,” he blurted after they were seated. “Do you realise I just gave away the biggest lotto win in the country?”
Unable to contain himself the businessman laughed. “Whom did you give it to?” He asked.
“That’s just it. I don’t know. I just went down to the newsagent and gave it to the first person that accepted it. I learnt something though. I learnt just how ridiculous it is to knock back something that is offered to you just because it’s free.
I mean, you keep telling me about this salvation stuff and how that Jesus offers us eternal life for free. I’ve always laughed it off because you couldn’t prove it to me, but that’s not good enough. I offered that ticket to quite a few people before someone took it, and even then he didn’t seem too overjoyed with the gift.”
“Did you wait to see his reaction when he found out?” the businessman asked.
“No, it seemed inappropriate. Anyway I wanted to see you because I want to accept Jesus as my Lord and Savior. Will you help me?”
Tears streamed down the businessman’s face as he wept openly. Crossing to his friend he threw his arms around him saying, “I have prayed often for you. I’m so happy but what a strange way to get saved!” No matter, he thought, I’m just glad you’re doing it.
The two spoke, ate breakfast and left for the office together. Somehow the whole scene seemed brighter and the air was filled with laughter as they walked, almost dancing down the street.
What of the man who had received the winning ticket? He was found at home happily planning with his family for their now brightened future.
“Hey, dad,” his son asked. “Who’s the dumb bloke who gave you the winning ticket?” His father scowled his displeasure at the name-calling.
“I don’t know,” he frowned, “When I turned to thank him he was gone.”
There was unbroken silence that seemed to last forever. Finally it was his wife who spoke. “I was with a bunch of church ladies the other day and they were trying to cheer me up. One of them said God was inclined to do some very mysterious things. Do you think it could have been an angel?” The son laughed and almost received a backhand for his insolence.
“I don’t think we should get superstitious,” he answered. “Anyway, my back was turned to him long enough for him to have left the store. I only wish I knew why!”
“That’s just it,” she argued. “When I said that all the church wanted was money one of them said I didn’t understand Jesus. She said he didn’t come to gain from us but to give to us. She said the Bible said Jesus did not come to be served but to serve. He didn’t want my money; he wanted me. She said he came looking for people just like you and me. He came to seek and save the lost – whatever that means.”
“More religious jargon!” the youth hooted. “Don’t tell me you’re going to start believing that stuff?”
“Well,” began his father, “I wouldn’t expect you to understand any of this but we were lost. Your mum and I were going to divorce, you didn’t want to be with either ‘loser’, and the only way out that I could see was to kill myself. I’d say we fit right in there. Anyway what would make a man give away the biggest win in his life to a man he doesn’t even know? I don’t know if I can believe in angels, but I think we should thank God. Who else can we thank?”
The boy was silent for a while. Finally he replied, “You got me there, I can’t tell you since we can’t find the bloke who gave it to you. I suppose there could be something to all this God stuff. We might as well give it a try, huh?”
They bowed their heads to pray but could not speak for the joy and grief that overtook them. By the time they ended each one had asked God to take control of their lives.
Tell me, if I might ask you a pertinent question, what became of those who had rejected the ticket because they didn’t believe? I’ll bet they kicked themselves for being such fools.
Could this be the way it is with you? Have you said that you cannot believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the only way of salvation? Do you doubt that there is such a thing as eternal life? Perhaps you have shunned the gospel as totally ridiculous?
After all, who would give away the winning ticket to the biggest lotto win in the country? Is this just a story or could it really happen? I wonder.
Truthfully the only way to be absolutely sure is to accept the invitation. Only the man who received the winning ticket went away with the win. It would be a sad thing for you to miss out on the grandest opportunity of eternity just because you couldn’t be sure.
I would like to encourage and give you opportunity to accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. I’d hate to think that you missed out just because you didn’t believe. Please accept our invitation today and pray the following prayer.
Heavenly Father and God of all creation, I know that I must accept your invitation afforded to me through Jesus Christ. He is my opportunity. I acknowledge that I am a sinner and in need of the gift you offer in Jesus. Father, save me from my sin and grant me your eternal reward through Jesus, your beloved Son who died for me. Thank you for your gift of salvation in the name of Jesus our Savior, amen.
Please contact the sponsor of these stories so they can help you to further understand the way of salvation.
© 2002 L K Stevenson
33 Browne St Forbes NSW 2871 Australia
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