Instructions in Diplomatic Integrity – Part 8

Jacob is preparing to come face to face with Esau. The meeting could be explosive. (see part 1-7). How do you prepare to meet with someone who is suspicious of your motives?



Anticipate Loaded Questions – I have used the Knotted Gun Sculpture by Carl Fredrik Reuterswärd and adjusted it to look like a question mark (Ross Cochrane).

He gave these instructions to the men leading the first group: “When my brother, Esau, meets you, he will ask, ‘Whose servants are you? Where are you going? Who owns these animals?’ You must reply, ‘They belong to your servant Jacob, but they are a gift for his master Esau. Look, he is coming right behind us’” (Genesis 32:17-18 NLT).  

Jacob anticipates the questions that Esau will ask and gets in ahead with the answers. This is a well-researched, well-managed exercise, taking every possibility into account. Esau is expecting Jacob behind every herd. Jacob is in last place this time, not first.

Did God command Jacob to do this? No. There is no record that this is directly commanded by God, but his plan appears to be a result of having been with God in prayer.

Jacob gave the same instructions to the second and third herdsmen and to all who followed behind the herds: “You must say the same thing to Esau when you meet him(Genesis 32:19 NLT). The message will be repeated a number of times.

And be sure to say, ‘Look, your servant Jacob is right behind us.’” Jacob thought, “I will try to APPEASE him by sending gifts ahead of me. When I see him in person, perhaps he will be friendly to me” (Genesis 32:20 NLT). 

This is not a deceptive strategy, but very straightforward, open and honest.

Yes, it is true that Jacob is trying to appease Esau. Apparently, the word “Appease” means “to pacify, to make an atonement, to make reconciliation”. Literally “to cover his face” and it has the idea that Esau can no longer see Jacob’s shame.

He offers a gift to make atonement and recompense for a rift in a relationship. Some have said that this implies that Jacob makes peace with God by reconciling with Esau.

Jesus said in Matthew 5:22-24 (NLT) if you are presenting a sacrifice at the altar in the Temple and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, leave your sacrifice there at the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God.”  

It has taken twenty years. He didn’t exactly go straight away, but at least Jacob is doing something now.

The stress of conflict can easily consume us and have an impact on all our relationships. What can Jacob teach us about this? (See Part 9…)

Pastor Ross


Instructions in Diplomatic Integrity – Part 7

Jacob is preparing to come face to face with Esau. The meeting could be explosive because Esau lost respect for Jacob a long time ago. (see part 1-6).

So how does Jacob prepare for this confrontation? How can you convince someone to meet with you when you have lost respect in their eyes?



© Flowers of Atonement, by Ross Cochrane

Jacob stayed where he was for the night. Then he selected these gifts from his possessions to present to his brother, Esau:(Genesis 32:13 NLT).  

After prayer, Jacob didn’t fall to pieces but sought to make it easy for Esau to talk. To avoid triggering further conflict Jacob sets about giving recompense for the deception he used so many years ago when he stole the birthright and blessing from Esau.

Now he is getting things right with his brother without compromising on the promises of God. The aftermath of failures can be used by God to grant success. Perhaps this is why God has blessed him materially. So that he could make restitution to Esau, with interest.

Some accuse Jacob of trying to buy Esau’s favor, but it’s always easy to be suspicious of his motives when an olive branch is extended. He has just been in prayer. This is more likely to be a response from the time he has spent with God.

200 female goats, 20 male goats, 200 ewes, 20 rams, 15 30 female camels with their young, 40 cows, 10 bulls, 20 female donkeys, and 10 male donkeys(Genesis 32:14-15 NLT).  

This is a fortune but Jacob has a moral obligation. He is being exceptionally generous but these animals were never really meant for him. All these animals are valuable but restitution is due. Jacob shows Esau that he respects and cares about the unrealised issues in their relationship that may still be important to him.

He divided these animals into herds and assigned each to different servants. Then he told his servants, “Go ahead of me with the animals, but keep some distance between the herds”(Genesis 32:16 NLT).

He decides to drip-feed the animals to Esau, one herd at a time. Wave after wave of gifts. He’s not running away, but making it easy for his brother to come to the negotiating table.

God’s blessings to Jacob become Esau’s gift of restoration. So much of that with which we are blessed is not meant for us but is for giving away to others. So often our response to God’s material blessings are put to the test. Are we willing to let them go?

What if Esau is suspicious of Jacob’s motives like so many commentators have been? (Find out. Read Part 8. Coming soon).

Pastor Ross


Instructions in Diplomatic Integrity – Part 6

Jacob is preparing to come face to face with Esau. The meeting could be explosive. (see part 1-5).

So how does Jacob prepare for this confrontation? What do you do about it if your actions have caused the conflict?



© Unworthy but not worthless. Created by Ross Cochrane.

“I am not worthy of all the unfailing love and faithfulness you have shown to me, your servant. When I left home and crossed the Jordan River, I owned nothing except a walking stick. Now my household fills two large camps!” (Genesis 32:10 NLT).

He’s right. He is not worthy. He has lied to his father and cheated his brother. He left the country bankrupt because you can never achieve a worthy end with unworthy means. Finally, he starts to realize that he has lived his life making decisions apart from God. Perhaps he is saying, “Lord I am the younger brother. I didn’t deserve the birthright or blessing on my life because they were obtained through deception and not from Your Hand. They gained me nothing but exile. Despite being as unworthy as I am, when I have trusted You, You have only shown Your love and faithful provision for my life.”

Isaiah 53:6 (NLT) says “All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own.” But now, in the crisis of this moment, Jacob makes himself subservient to God who has been with him in the process of a lifetime. He is unworthy but not worthless. He humbles himself before God just as he humbles himself before Esau. “Servant of all”.

This will test Jacob’s faith and character. Will he have what it takes for God’s promise to be fulfilled with integrity, humility and respect rather than try to gain the blessing from his self-motivated arrogant willfulness?

Recognising that we have a responsibility in owning our part in the conflict is important. Jacob is being real with God and Esau.



© Specific Target. Created by Ross Cochrane.

“O Lord, please rescue me from the hand of my brother, Esau. I am afraid that he is coming to attack me, along with my wives and children. 

But You promised me, ‘I will surely treat you kindly, and I will multiply your descendants until they become as numerous as the sands along the seashore—too many to count’” (Genesis 32:11-12 NLT).

Jacob gets down to the specifics. He’s learned a lot about God; His promises, His faithful love, not to mention an angelic army. He doesn’t have nearly as much regard for Esau. He fears that he and his family will be massacred.

As God’s diplomat, he has been appointed with letters of accreditation in the form of a promise which enables him to carry out his duties on behalf of the King of kings within the jurisdiction of this land. He is a servant and ambassador for God’s purposes. But right now he is wondering about his diplomatic immunity from Esau’s arrows.

In prayer, Jacob the deceiver reminds God about His promises, and no doubt prayer also had a way of reminding him about the faithfulness of God.

He will need to take proactive steps to restore his credibility with Esau. Not so easy. How can you convince someone to meet with you when you have lost respect in their eyes? (Find out in Part 7, coming soon).

Pastor Ross  


Instructions in Diplomatic Integrity – Part 5

Jacob is preparing to come face to face with Esau. The meeting could be explosive. (see part 1-4).

So how does Jacob prepare for this confrontation? When you need urgent counsel, who do you talk to?


Lifeline © Image created by Ross Cochrane.

“Then Jacob prayed, “O God…”” (Genesis 32:9 NLT).

Sure, you might want a human counselor, but when it comes to trusting someone, God is a great contact.

Jacob comes to God in prayer. This is crisis prayer but shows that God is becoming a more central figure in his life. In fact, this prayer is central to all that happens in this story. It leaves me to consider that if Jacob has a history of significant interactions with God, then prayer is a key factor to the outcomes of my own life today.






Heritage © book created by Julie Cochrane. Photo by Ross Cochrane

“O God of my grandfather Abraham, and God of my father, Isaac—O Lord, You told me, ‘Return to your own land and to your relatives.’ And You promised me, ‘I will treat you kindly’” (Genesis 32:9 NLT). 

To be blessed by God and then murdered by his brother doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. When all we can see are the difficult circumstances, we miss out on seeing God’s past record of faithfulness. Prayer draws us back into the reality of God’s intentions.

Jacob is laying it out on the line with God in prayer. There is family history in his relationship with God. There is a covenant in place and so far it has all worked out. God has been faithful.

My wife has a wonderful heritage of faith extending back generations in her family, but any follower of Christ has become a part of the generational blessing and faithfulness of God over centuries and we have good reason to develop trust. We do so on the basis of a new covenant with God made through the death of Christ.

Hebrews 8:6-13 (NLT) says “But now Jesus, … mediates for us a far better covenant with God, based on better promises: “… I will put My laws in their minds, and I will write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be My people. … And I will forgive their wickedness, and I will never again remember their sins.”

From Genesis 28:12-15, it’s quite clear that God was with Jacob and would protect him wherever he went. God had big plans for Jacob and his sons. Jesus would eventually come from his line. If Esau wanted to escalate conflict, then he really didn’t have a chance.

We have the history and heritage of God’s faithfulness and forgiveness going back thousands of years. Yet sometimes it is our own past history and lack of faithfulness that gets in our way of trusting in God.

Jacob was the big man, knowing that he was in the right, when he stood up to Laban. But with Esau, he knows he has done the wrong thing.

What do you do when your actions have caused the conflict? (Find out more. Part 6 is coming).

Pastor Ross


Instructions in Diplomatic Integrity – Part 4

Jacob is preparing to come face to face with Esau. The meeting could be explosive. (see parts 1-3).

When a conflict management meeting starts to go south, what can you do?


Rusted Gauge3.jpg

© Control Your Emotions by Ross Cochrane

“Jacob was terrified at the news…” (Genesis 32:7 NLT).

OK, so Jacob is not exactly cool, calm and collected about the news of an army of 400 men coming his way. And neither are you, if you are honest, when faced with conflict.

But once again, Jacob observes the facts of the situation as objectively as he can. So often in conflict management, we have limited information, much of which is anything but good. But here Jacob has a window of opportunity, a timeframe within which he must respond with something concrete and positive. The clock is counting down and at the moment he has about 24 hours to defuse this potentially explosive situation.



© Remain open to possibilities by Ross Cochrane

What do you do when you don’t know what to do?

Jacob can only assume that past history will dictate how Esau will handle this conflict. Esau was always a hunter. A whole lot more information is needed but all Jacob can go with is what little he has. If he remains open to the possibility that Esau may be willing to negotiate, then he may still be able to pour oil on the water.


Stategy glass.jpg

© Transparently Strategic by Ross Cochrane

“…He divided his household, along with the flocks and herds and camels, into two groups. He thought, “If Esau meets one group and attacks it, perhaps the other group can escape”” (Genesis 32:7-8 NLT).

Jacob is terrified but not stupid. He takes immediate action to protect his family and servants. Trusting in God but not his brother, Jacob believes for the best and prepares for the worst. He is being proactive in dividing his company into two groups given that God has not given specific instructions as to how to deal with Esau.

Notice Jacob moves to protect his family and his people rather than his flocks and herds. People are always more important than the conflict. He has learned that people in his life are not just commodities to be manipulated to suit his own ends. One group at least has hope for escape.

I’m sure Jacob is hoping that the angelic army is going to help, but he’s setting things up in case they are just there to watch.

Is all this simply scheming as some have suggested, and not trusting in God? It seems to me Jacob is acting with care, putting others first. He’s afraid, but he’s not running away from God’s plan and he is taking responsibility for the blessings with which God has entrusted to him.

Jacob needs counsel, not criticism and who can he talk to? (Find out in Part 5)

Pastor Ross


Instructions in Diplomatic Integrity – Part 3

Jacob is preparing to come face to face with Esau. The meeting could be explosive. Jacob’s short course in diplomacy is worth noting (see parts 1 and 2).

So how does Jacob prepare for this confrontation? How do you prepare when you are facing a meeting with a sense of dread?



© Keep Your Focus Clear. Created by Ross Cochrane

Jacob sends a message to Esau,

“…and now I own cattle, donkeys, flocks of sheep and goats, and many servants, both men and women. I have sent these messengers to inform my lord of my coming, hoping that you will be FRIENDLY to me” (Genesis 32:5 NLT).

Jacob is direct. He lets Esau know that he has a small army of servants and livestock with him and that he hopes for a friendly meeting. Wise move Jacob! No sign of deception here, just a lot of wisdom.

Some say he was trying to impress Esau with his wealth, and this was only evidence that Jacob didn’t trust God to care for him, but please! He has to get in contact with Esau in some way.

He is letting Esau know that he is not there to bring harm but re-establish a friendship or at least a working relationship. He tells Esau exactly what is happening, how many people he has with him, what he can expect, no frills, no surprises, no deception. Just straight talk and a focus on the best possible scenario: friendship.

The key diplomatic responsibilities of Jacob are how best to influence and persuade Esau to re-establish a relationship with him as an ally rather than adversary. In this operation as an Ambassador of God, his intelligence, integrity, his understanding of the emotional climate, and his spiritual insight are critical.

If he succeeds, he will live to tell the story and develop a relationship with Esau grounded in trust and mutual understanding. If he doesn’t, he will have placed his family in the worst possible danger. There are no guarantees except the promises of God.

God has granted Jacob extensive privileges and immunities, but all that depends on upon applying his faith to this confrontation with Esau. The Elegancy of Diplomacy is worthless without the Integrity of Devotion to God and His purposes.

“After delivering the message, the messengers returned to Jacob and reported, “We met your brother, Esau, and he is already on his way to meet you—with an army of 400 men!”” (Genesis 32:6 NLT). 

So much for diplomacy. Jacob shows his humility and Esau responds with a show of strength. Esau has an army and Jacob has flocks and servants. If this is reduced to Possessions and Power then there’s little chance of resolution.

Flexing his muscles with an army of 400 men indicates fairly strongly that Esau doesn’t trust Jacob. Based on his record, I wouldn’t either. Experience tells him that he should not take chances. He doesn’t give any message to Jacob but leaves him guessing as to whether he is coming as friend or foe.

When a conflict management meeting starts to go south, what can you do? (Watch out for Part 4)

Pastor Ross


Instructions in Diplomatic Integrity – Part 2

Jacob is preparing to come face to face with Esau. The meeting could be explosive. That’s why Jacob’s short course in diplomacy is worth noting (see part 1).

So how does Jacob prepare for this confrontation? How do you prepare when you are facing a meeting with a sense of dread?



Time short1.jpg© Hourglass with watch parts. by Ross Cochrane

“Then Jacob sent messengers ahead to his brother, Esau, who was living in the region of Seir in the land of Edom” (Genesis 32:3 NLT).

He sends messengers ahead. Why didn’t he go himself? Let’s face it. When death threats have been made, it makes more sense to send neutral parties. They travel to Seir in Edom; the territory of Esau, South of the Dead Sea. Good move Jacob!

Take action now. As so often is the way, help arrives when we get up and do something. Angels came as Jacob “started on his way”. Sometimes we just have to make a choice to move before God comes to meet with us more directly. Mind you, it took Jacob twenty years to get to this point!

Jacob is a wordsmith. He crafts what he wants to say so as not to inflame any residual anger in his confrontation with Esau.


Respect 7.jpg

© Respect and Humility by Ross Cochrane

“He told them, “Give this message to my master Esau: ‘Humble greetings from your servant Jacob. Until now I have been living with Uncle Laban,…” (Genesis 32:4 NLT).

Why does Jacob call Esau his master? Some say Jacob is despising his birthright which gave him rulership of the family, just as Esau had despised it by giving it away. They say Jacob is forsaking his father’s blessing by calling himself Esau’s servant, but give him a break! Isn’t it more likely that he is simply being polite? He is humbly showing respect. It doesn’t hurt to show respect. It’s a sign of strength, not weakness.

Jacob has been away for a long time. This is Esau’s home territory. He wants to enter on Esau’s terms, not just barge in with the arrogance of a fool and provoke hostility. He crafts his message carefully. There are no threats or judgments, just a wisely worded diplomatic message.

This is a picture of servanthood that one day his descendant Jesus would exemplify. Jesus, the servant ruler tells His disciples, Mark 9:35 (NLT) “Whoever wants to be first must take last place and be the servant of everyone else.”

The time inevitably will come in our lives when God teaches us leadership through unpretentious servanthood and diplomacy, rather than insisting on our rights. We cannot know how to lead if we do not ourselves know what it means to submit.

Jacob also teaches us about focus in the midst of conflict (Coming soon, Part 3).

Pastor Ross


© Conflicted by Ross and Julie Cochrane


Instructions in Diplomatic Integrity – Part 1

Twenty years ago, he left the country as a fugitive, with a death sentence on his head. Now, if he is to return, he will either be public enemy number one or one of the best diplomats of his time.

Jacob fled from Esau, his brother, trying to escape from his past. Then from Laban, his uncle, who was trying to control his future. He is most disturbed, however, by what is happening in the present. This journey back to his homeland after twenty years will either be a pathway of diplomacy or a precipice of disaster!

I have entered meetings so charged with negative emotions that it made me want to run the other way. Jacob has good reason to want to run.

The situation was quite clear when Jacob left the country. Genesis 27:41 (NLT) says, “From that time on, Esau HATED Jacob because their father had given Jacob the blessing. And Esau began to scheme: “I will soon be mourning my father’s death. Then I WILL KILL MY BROTHER, JACOB.” 

How should he respond to Esau’s antagonism, his intimidating tactics? How can he convey, in the most persuasive way possible, that he intends no further harm or trickery to his brother and do this without compromising God’s purposes for his life?

That’s why Jacob’s short course in diplomacy is worth noting. Over a twenty year period, he has earned his diplomatic qualifications the hard way. Now he is a member of that exclusive and prestigious profession of pinstriped men and women who glide their way across the earth in a dance of diplomacy with all the finesse and etiquette that is demanded when walking on eggshells. The only difference is that he wants to dance with diplomatic integrity rather than deceit. No stew pots or goats skin this time.

What can he teach us when we dread facing situations in life which threaten our future?


Genesis 32:1-2 says “As Jacob started on his way again, angels of God came to meet him. When Jacob saw them, he exclaimed, “This is God’s camp!” So he named the place Mahanaim.”  

OK, so it won’t always be angels but, somewhere along the way to the purposes of God it seems we always have to confront our past, and we need all the help we can get to move forward.

Jacob has been no angel, but Angels keep turning up at key points in Jacob’s life. They were there at Bethel when God gave Jacob an unbelievable promise. And they will be at Bethel when God fulfils His promise.

Why are they here? Do these angels encourage him to make face to face contact with Esau rather than try deceptive means to get back into the country? We are not told.

Perhaps this angelic diplomatic attaché is here to witness what Jacob is going to do, give him confidence that God is here, and show him he is doing the right thing. He was obviously moved by this sighting.

Then again, they may be there to get a good seat for the fight, nice and early.

Jacob names the place, “Mahanaim” which means “two camps”. Military camps. Are these angelic figures involved in the Spiritual warfare of this occasion as they watch God and man in contest? Are they there to observe just how God works out his purposes? Are they there to protect Jacob? I have all these questions, but we are not told! God leaves out the details so many times in the Bible. But figure it out…

This is a stress-plus time for Jacob. From the moment Jacob obeys God by leaving Laban behind, he is more open to seeing what is happening spiritually on every level. He is attuned to the fact that something significant is about to happen. I guess seeing “angels of God” will do that every time.

There have been situations in my life which have brought me to the realisation that I need God’s help. Often it has meant starting out with what I already know and with what I already have in my hand, and only then do I discover the spiritual help at hand to cover that which I don’t know.

One thing I do know is that “If God is for us, who can ever be against us?” (Romans 8:31, NLT).

So how does Jacob prepare for this confrontation? How do you prepare for a coming confrontation? (Watch for Part 2).

Pastor Ross

Missing the Point

© Ross Cochrane – Gambling with Forgiveness

Matthew 18:23-35 – HOW TO INVEST IN WHAT TRULY MATTERS – The Parable of a Rogue Trader


Another rogue trader is back in the headlines after Compassion Bank’s Owner and Managing Director revealed that “unauthorised trading” by Michael Heartless has cost the bank millions of dollars.

The losses had surprisingly little impact on the market generally, due to Bank reserves and profits, which fortunately dwarfed the rogue trader’s activities. “This will not even touch the bank’s massive resources for the Kingdom our bank serves,” said Managing Director, J.C. Davidson, who also rules the dominion of World Kingdom Enterprises, “but it is disappointing.”

Michael Heartless had it all, authority in the banking arena, great wealth and honour. Living in a huge house, he was chauffeur driven in a magnificent limousine. He wore designer clothes and a Rolex watch. A wheeler and dealer and now an exposed ruthless rogue trader, he was the Senior Trader of Compassion Bank’s massive company.

Heartless worked his way up in the company from the position of Assistant Accountant to Senior Accountant and then Senior Trader, and was entrusted with borrowing from his employer’s Worldwide Banking Corporation to make huge business deals and investments. Traders said he expressed a love for working for his boss, as a trusted long-time employee.

After a lucrative career, Mr. Heartless began to get careless, making a series of questionable deals and fraudulent choices which inevitably lost millions of company dollars. Because he had worked in Compliance, he became adept at hiding his losses and bypassing checks.

Never thinking he would be discovered, and always thinking he could pay back the company if given time, he added to his fraud by siphoning off enough funds to keep on living his extravagant lifestyle. He bought luxury goods and property at over inflated prices, spending millions in a number of waterfront apartments. He was sure his next big deal would pay back the money he owed.

The Managing Director and owner, J C Davidson, had given his employer an incredible amount of leeway, allowing him to make choices for the good of Kingdom Enterprises. Perhaps his fraud would not have been discovered for some time except an immediate audit was underway and J.C. Davidson wanted to bring His accounts up to date with all His Banking Traders who had borrowed money from Him.

One auditor said “It was an unpayable debt. Some countries could be run on what Mr Heartless owed. His debt was so immense that at first we thought it was beyond estimation. The interest alone on such a debt would be enormous.”

The audit revealed the massive losses and fraud and Mr. Heartless was summoned to appear before the Managing Director and Auditors. Although Heartless respected J.C. Davidson, he lacked the integrity of his boss and did not want to face up to his debt. A fellow trader said, “He refused to come at first but when a limousine arrived with two rather large messengers, he knew he had no choice.”

Subsequently, J.C. Davidson exercised His sovereign authority and demanded that Heartless repay the money lost. Heartless was unable to pay the debt, so according to court transcripts, Davidson ordered everything he owned to be sold.

Heartless, along with his family members, who were co-conspirators, were ordered to be placed under an enforced work order to recover the debt. This amounted to hard labour and community service for the rest of their lives. The conviction was immediately appealed by Heartless who tried desperately to work out a deal with Davidson.

One of the auditors told our reporter that Heartless literally collapsed and begged Davidson for more time. “He was totally unrealistic. He asked for patience and he would repay the whole debt. It was laughable. At least he acknowledged that the debt was his to pay, but trying to propose some kind of time based repayment scheme was ridiculous … His mistake was thinking that he could operate and manage finance apart from being accountable to J.C.”



The world was left reeling today in hearing that the Rogue trader, Michael Heartless, walked away from paying a single cent. Bankers are questioning the way J.C. Davidson exercises His extensive sovereignty over Kingdom Enterprises.

An auditor for Kingdom Enterprises said, “What I found to be unbelievable is that J.C. Davidson had pity on him, released him and forgave his debt entirely, withdrawing all charges, and personally covered the money owed.” …

J.C. Davidson later made a statement. “You must understand that Compassion Bank is run not only on a set of legal principles of building business relationships. It is run on the invisible relationship principles of love, forgiveness and grace which cannot be legislated. Legal compliance without a heart to do what is right is fruitless. I encourage my employees to regard relationships of forgiveness and compassion with each-other as being incredibly important. The example of forgiveness I have shown to Mr. Heartless is more important than the money he owes Me. I am willing to pay the price for him.”

The banking world was astounded at the enormous debt forgiven and the apparent lack of justice and business sense. Bankers all over the world have accused Davidson of taking part in the fraud, but so far His business dealings by countless independent auditors have proved to be beyond reproach.

When Davidson was asked again why He let Heartless and his family walk free, He simply said, No amount of sacrifice on his part or enforced work programmes for his family could possibly re-pay their debt. He admitted his crime and I forgave his debt. That’s the end of the matter.” This approach would not be tolerated in normal banking practices in other countries. Heartless has refused an interview and has not been seen since his release.



It seems the story of the rogue trader, Michael Heartless is far from finished. It has recently come to light that when Heartless left his boss, after being completely forgiven of his multi-million dollar debt, that he immediately went to a fellow banking trader who owed him a few thousand dollars.

Heartless lived up to his name. Despite being forgiven so great a debt himself, it was confirmed by reliable sources and witnesses that he demanded payment and assaulted his debtor.

His fellow trader owed him a tiny debt in comparison to the millions of dollars that Heartless had been forgiven. A witness said that his fellow trader, who can’t be named “… begged for a little more time to pay, but Heartless kept on demanding immediate payment and wouldn’t listen.” It is alleged that Heartless pressed charges against the man, and had him arrested and thrown into prison.

A witness said “You would think that this guy Heartless would be over the top joyful about being forgiven his unpayable debt? But no. He uses violence to demand his fellow trader to pay a tiny debt in comparison. Unbelievable!”



Michael Heartless finally faces a jail sentence. Fellow traders are whistleblowers as to Heartless’ lack of compassion and J.C. Davidson steps in.

Charges have been laid and Heartless is now in prison but for the most surprising of reasons. J.C. Davidson, presiding over His own court, described Heartless as “… an evil man.” He said, in summing up his sentence, “You acted within the law but sooner or later evil men are brought to account for their evil acts. This is your time to be called to account for your unforgiveness and lack of compassion. In this court, your unforgiveness is a greater crime than the original debt which I forgave. Your crime is your lack of compassion. You will remain in custody until you have shown forgiveness to your fellow trader and until that time you will bear the torture you have brought on yourself.”

The world stands dumbfounded by his charge. Apparently Michael Heartless receives justice for his heartless pursuit of a fellow debtor. He is a prisoner because of his own bitterness and lack of compassion. His punishment is self-imposed. His unforgiveness has placed him in prison and because of his bitter and vindictive actions towards another fellow trader, he will not be free until he takes the example of his boss, and learns to forgive.

An employer who was at the court told said, “The world may not agree with how the Managing Director of Compassion Bank and Kingdom Enterprises exercises His sovereign authority over His country, but perhaps we could all learn to be a little more compassionate in the light of our own indebtedness towards God.”

Warren Wiersbe says “The world’s worst prison is the prison of an unforgiving heart. If we refuse to forgive others, then we are only imprisoning ourselves and causing our own torment.”



The prayer Jesus taught His disciples includes the words “… forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors … If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.” (Matthew 6:12, 14-15 NIV and NLT).

In the parable in Matthew 18:23-35, the king is the Lord Jesus Christ. The servants are anyone who calls Him their King. The Kingdom refers to the sphere of His authority to rule over us as our King, and His ability to bring us to account. Romans 14:11-13 (NLT) says, “‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bend to Me, and every tongue will confess and give praise to God.’” Yes, each of us will give a personal account to God. So let’s stop condemning each other. Decide instead to live in such a way that you will not cause another believer to stumble and fall.” 

The context of this parable is forgiveness between two people who are followers of Christ. Jesus says that we are people who offer forgiveness continually without trying to count the number of times or measure the size of the debt (Matthew 18:21-22).

The currency in this parable is the extensive, unmeasurable amount of forgiveness we have received from God compared to the meagre amount of forgiveness we will ever have opportunity to give to others who sin against us. True compassion, therefore, arises out of a deep-seated understanding of our own forgiveness and prompts in us the capacity to forgive others.

God offers us mercy because of the death of Christ on the Cross who paid the penalty for our sin and not because of some misplaced idea of us being able to pay the debt. It is not surprising then that Ephesians 4:31-32 (NLT) says “Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behaviour. Instead, be kind to each other, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.”  

The parable has further explanation through the words of Colossians 3:12-14 (NLT) which says “Since God chose you to be the holy people He loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.” 

Pastor Ross

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The Power of Forgiveness © Ross Cochrane


He was dying and wanted most of all to see his daughters together again. Graeme (not his real name) had two daughters who were estranged from each other. He longed to see them reconciled.

One sister, a follower of Christ, arrived first. She was concerned. “My sister is on her way and she is a professed atheist. I know that when we meet it will only end up in unnecessary conflict”. I encouraged her to wait and see what would happen.

When the other sister arrived they both went in to see their father in a coma and the stress of years of estrangement melted as conversation ensued in their common grief. How would they communicate with their Dad now? “He is still able to hear you,” I said, “and I am sure that he is pleased that you are both here. I encourage you to spend time alone with your Dad and express your love to him in whatever way you are able.”

When I offered to pray for their dad, they both accepted. I spoke to Graeme first. “Graeme, it is a beautiful day and your daughters have both arrived to see you. I’d like to pray for all of you.” I touched his hand “Graeme, you are surrounded by people who love and care for you and you are loved by God. I encourage you to reach out your hand to the Lord Jesus Christ and trust your life into His hands for the next part of your journey.” I prayed a prayer of commitment and allowed the sisters to spend time with their father.

Later, I came across the sister who believed in God. She said, “My father has died but we both spent time with him individually and together and expressed our feelings to him.”

“We could tell that Dad’s breathing was becoming weaker and my ‘atheist’ sister suddenly suggested that we pray the Lord’s prayer together. I was shocked. We cried as we prayed and the distance between us vanished. In forgiveness and agreement we stood either side of the bed, believer and so called atheist, holding hands with each other as the strife of the years fell away and we were reunited in relationship with each other, with God and with our dad. ”

“Our Father, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven ….Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us … Thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, forever and ever, Amen”.

“Then the most amazing thing happened. As we said that final Amen, we heard my Dad speak clearly out from the haze of his coma, ‘Amen’, in agreement with us, and then he died.”

My wife’s response to this story expresses it beautifully. She said, “An amazing story of reconciliation, brought about by a father’s love for his daughters – reflecting Jesus’ amazing ministry of reconciliation brought about by another Father’s love for His children.”

Matthew 18:19 (NLT) says, “I also tell you this: If two of you agree here on earth concerning anything you ask, my Father in heaven will do it for you. Being in Agreement with God and with each other heals relationships. Agreement speaks of harmony and unity among followers of Christ crafted delicately through prayer and forgiveness and carries great authority.

Jesus had already told Peter in Matthew 16:19 (NLT) “I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven. Whatever you forbid on earth will be forbidden in heaven, and whatever you permit on earth will be permitted in heaven.”

Then in Matthew 18:18 (NLT) Jesus is speaking to all His disciples about restoring broken relationships. He says, “I tell you the truth, whatever you forbid on earth will be forbidden in heaven, and whatever you permit on earth will be permitted in heaven.” So the same authority given to Peter to begin building the Church at Pentecost is also granted to all the disciples in sustaining the unity of relationships with each other and God.

The invitation is to respond to the forgiveness of Christ and understand how immeasurable and vast it is in restoring us into a relationship with God. To experience such love and forgiveness as this, changes us on the inside. We begin to see that relationships are of higher value than arguments and in humility we forgive others as Christ has forgiven us.

Pastor Ross