FORGIVENESS. We love that word when we’re the one that needs it. But we don’t always love that word when we’re the one that has to give it. All of us want to be forgiven of something we’ve done wrong so that we don’t have to face the consequences. But when someone wrongs us we are all for them getting what’s coming to them. Getting payback. Getting what they deserve. But if we’re going to be God’s special people, followers of Jesus Christ, citizens of the kingdom of heaven then we are going to have to get over ourselves and learn to forgive just like God has forgiven us.
In Matthew 18:15-17 Jesus taught the disciples how to handle sins done to them by others. To go and seek reconciliation. Seek to forgive. Make peace if possible. But in 18:21 Peter came to Jesus with a very human question: “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” To the Jews seven was a big number when it came to forgiveness. But not big enough in God’s eyes. Jesus told Peter, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times” (18:22). Some versions say “seventy times seven.” Jesus wasn’t being literal with that number. Rather He said it that way to make a point to Peter and the rest that our forgiveness toward others is to be limitless.
To drive this lesson home, Jesus goes on to give a parable in Matthew 18:23-35 when He said: “Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii, and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay what you owe.’ So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt. When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place. Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. So also My heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”
We come to God in our worthless condition in sin and plead with God for His mercy and grace so that we don’t have to face His wrath and go to hell. God in His everlasting mercy and amazing grace forgives us of our sins even though we don’t deserve it. Jesus is telling us that we are to show the same kind of mercy and grace towards others. How can we expect God to forgive us of what we’ve done if we are unwilling to forgive those around us? Jesus tells us plainly that He won’t. If we do not forgive someone from our heart, then God is not going to forgive us. It’s that simple. God has shown great mercy toward us and He expects us to do the same for others.
Don’t be like that unforgiving servant. If we want God’s forgiveness then we have to forgive each other. Holding a grudge is not worth losing your soul over. Staying mad and bitter will not get you to Heaven. Love. Forgive. Move on. Focus on God. Focus on eternity. Focus on Heaven. Follow Jesus’ example. Listen to what Jesus teaches us in this parable. Be forgiving. Rejoice in God’s forgiveness. Forgive so that you can be forgiven.