In Matt 18:21 - 35 Jesus tells a parable of an unforgiving slave. I'm taking a look at it now as I go through verses related to the secrets of the kingdom.
Matt 18:21-23 sets the stage:
Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how many times could my brother sin against me and I forgive him? As many as seven times?”Jesus goes on to talk of a slave who owed his master a huge debt. But the master had compassion on him and forgave his debt.
“I tell you, not as many as seven,” Jesus said to him, “but 70 times seven. For this reason, the kingdom of heaven can be compared to a king who wanted to settle accounts with his slaves...
The slave then goes and finds another slave who owes him a small debt, but has no compassion on him, and sends him to jail until he can pay.
Matt 18:32 - 35 give the implications of this story for us:
“Then, after he had summoned him, his master said to him, ‘You wicked slave! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. Shouldn’t you also have had mercy on your fellow slave, as I had mercy on you?’ And his master got angry and handed him over to the jailers to be tortured until he could pay everything that was owed. So My heavenly Father will also do to you if each of you does not forgive his brother from his heart.” (HCSB)I won't claim to understand the reference to torture here. It may fit into a purgatory type framework, or maybe that is beyond the point of this parable.
But what is clear to me is that I must show mercy and forgiveness to others. If God's love and mercy is real to me, it will flow out of me to others.
Pay it forward.
Benjamin Franklin described well the pay it forward concept in 1784.
I do not pretend to give such a Sum; I only lend it to you. When you [...] meet with another honest Man in similar Distress, you must pay me by lending this Sum to him; enjoining him to discharge the Debt by a like operation, when he shall be able, and shall meet with another opportunity. I hope it may thus go thro' many hands, before it meets with a Knave that will stop its Progress. This is a trick of mine for doing a deal of good with a little money.
I think Jesus was saying the kingdom of heaven is like pay it forward with forgiveness and mercy.
God shows more love, mercy and forgiveness to us than we can image. In His kingdom he expects us to follow His lead and continue to pay it forward to others. We can't get away with simply loving God back, and being grateful for what He has done for us. We can't just love those who have been good to us, and forgive those who have forgiven us.
We must love those that are not easy to love, and those who have done us wrong. We must 'pay forward' by loving those who don't seem to deserve our love.