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Long Parable on Forgiveness (Rabel)

(Back) Temptations to Sin Would-Be Followers of Jesus (Next)

This is a series of lectures given by Mr. Edward Rabel, member of the faculty of S.M.R.S.
Winter semester 1976 - 2nd. Yr. Class. Part of Lecture 26 given on March 11, 1976

Matthew 18:15-35, pp. 154-156 of transcript.

18:15And if thy brother sin against thee, go, show him his fault between thee and him alone: if he hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. 18:16But if he hear thee not, take with thee one or two more, that at the mouth of two witnesses or three every word may be established. 18:17And if he refuse to hear them, tell it unto the church: and if he refuse to hear the church also, let him be unto thee as the Gentile and the publican. 18:18Verily I say unto you, what things soever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and what things soever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. 18:19Again I say unto you, that if two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father who is in heaven. 18:20For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.

18:21Then came Peter and said to him, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? until seven times? 18:22Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times; but, Until seventy times seven. 18:23Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, who would make a reckoning with his servants. 18:24And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, that owed him ten thousand talents. 18:25But forasmuch as he had not wherewith to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made. 18:26The servant therefore fell down and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. 18:27And the lord of that servant, being moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt. 18:28But that servant went out, and found one of his fellow-servants, who owed him a hundred shillings: and he laid hold on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay what thou owest. 18:29So his fellow-servant fell down and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee. 18:30And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay that which was due. 18:31So when his fellow-servants saw what was done, they were exceeding sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done. 18:32Then his lord called him unto him, and saith to him, Thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou besoughtest me: 18:33shouldest not thou also have had mercy on thy fellow-servant, even as I had mercy on thee? 18:34And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due. 18:35So shall also my heavenly Father do unto you, if ye forgive not every one his brother from your hearts.

I very strongly believe that this particular passage was the basis for Jacob Bohme's inspiration. He writes, "the true spirit of Jesus Christ is continuous forgiveness of sin. [Transcriber's note: Here is a video of mentioning this quote from Jacob Bohme.] For me this is one of the classic commentaries concerning the Gospels. The true spirit of Jesus Christ is continuous forgiveness of sin. Theoretically in our idealism, we can sit here and say, "oh, how beautiful; oh, how true but knowing human nature as you do, what is the big hang up here? What is the big stumbling block in this idea where spirit is willing but flesh is weak. The key to the dilemma is in the word continuous. What does the word continuous mean? Always, always active. How does human nature almost always feel about this need to forgive someone? Use yourself as an example: so much and no more. I'll forgive you seven times kid but don't pull the [missing words in the transcript]. There is logic behind that. Every person has a right to decide his own limits, you are not an automaton which must respond to some expert who said it had to be that way, you are still an individual who is constantly being offered by your sense of self opportunities for choice and if you are offered opportunities for choice, what is this implying? That you have a right to your choice. If you wouldn't have a right to it, you wouldn't be constantly offered opportunities to make the choice.

So, there is a validity on this business of limiting the amount of forgiving one does, but within that validity there is something called limitation. If you avail yourself of the privilege of limiting the amount of forgiving you are going to do, you must take what comes with that privilege. So, if you are limiting the amount of forgiving you believe you are capable of, then you have limited yourself to that same degree. The privilege and the price of the privilege come together. So, Jesus’ words and Jacob Bohme's commentaries on forgiveness applies only to a person who is looking for an unlimited consciousness or Christ consciousness. If you are really seeking Christ consciousness, then you must forego the privilege of limitations, even though you have a right to impose those limitations. Nobody, and nothing in the world can say to you, "you have to forgive" and "you have to forgive continuously".

I am sure Jesus isn't saying that, but he is saying, "if you want unlimited consciousness, or Christ consciousness, you must do unlimited forgiving," there is no other way. The minute you say, I've had enough, I'll forgive no more, you are out of the kingdom, you are out of the running for Christ consciousness. I am not saying, that is bad, that is wrong, you should, or you shouldn't, it is just the way it is. When you limit any kind of spiritual act or expression from yourself, to that degree you limit yourself from attaining what you really want that is Christ consciousness. If we all had to write down on a piece of paper that specific act which I personally consider the mightiest of all spiritual acts, perhaps we have many different choices but my own personal choice would be, considering where we are at this moment, what dimension we are functioning in for the most part. I would not hesitate for one second to put down as the mightiest of all spiritual acts inner forgiveness. This would come first, the act of inwardly forgiving a sin. It doesn't matter whose sin, that doesn't matter. When Jesus was asked, "who did sin?" What was his implied answer? It doesn't matter, you fools; it doesn't matter, can't you see? It doesn't matter who sinned; what does matter is who is forgiving it, and if we are smart, who is that going to be? It is going to be ME and it going to be continuous.

Now, again I must warn you. It is an entirely different ball game folks sitting in a nice, beautiful, rapport filled class much as this and hearing these words and entering into a spirit of agreement. This is wonderful, this is ground breaking, the soil tilling and all this. But remember what a different ball game it is when I am at that, and there is that pitcher throwing those big hard curves down, down at channel called itself. Then what I am going to do? Too often, for me at least, it is strike out or foul ball. When it comes our turn at that and then we remember how we felt in a class situation such as this and at least try to duplicate the vows we made in a class like this; go ahead and at least make the effort tentative though it may be even if only get to touch the hem of the garment of what we have in mind. At least that making of the effort is usually a hit on base, sometimes a homerun.

So, let’s take Jesus’ words about forgiveness, the essential thing about it. I think that for us, as we are right now, it is not required of us that we say, “but there is nothing to forgive, oh, no, there was no offense committed, there is nothing to forgive.” I say, if you can say a thing like that and really mean it, that is you are really expressing how you see it and how you really feel, you wouldn’t be with us, you would be with Jesus. But where we are on this dimension sins or offenses or occasions of stumbling are still very much in the perceivable realm, in the perceivable dimension and we are still using our judgment faculty in a manner of discrimination, discernment, and we see these things and there is nothing wrong in seeing these things but it is what we do about the fact that we see them. Everything depends on it and if we can learn to forgive, and remember, you can forgive without condoning, you can forgive and still take disciplinary measures, you can forgive and take preventative or restrictive precautions but forgiveness is a thing of the heart not of the physical body activities. You can forgive a guy but you put him in jail because Caesar has to get his renderings and the forgiveness is an inner and usually a secret thing, so that is between you and your indwelling Lord. A lot of time Jesus advised us, tell no man, don’t tell, do. Mrs. Shanklin in her book “What are You?” puts it this way, “In all things be slow to promise but prompt to perform.” Ed Rabel says it, “don’t make promises, deliver the goods.” OK. Don’t tell but inwardly do.

Text of the original transcript of p.154-156.
Transcribed by Margaret Garvin on 04-03-2014