For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. | Matthew 6:14-15
How important is forgiveness? Forgiveness is as indispensable to my life and health of my soul as food is for the body. In the model prayer, we are taught to pray, “Forgive us our debts”. Sin is likened to a ‘debt’ because it deserves to be punished.
But when God forgives my sin, he remits the penalty and drops the charge against me. The addition of the words as we also have forgiven our debtors is further emphasized in verses 14 and 15 which follow the prayer and state that our Father will forgive me if I forgive others but will not forgive me if I refuse to forgive others.
Do I have a forgiving spirit? This certainly does not mean that my forgiveness of others earns me the right to be forgiven. It is rather that God forgives only the penitent and that one of the chief evidences of true penitence is a forgiving spirit. Once my eyes have been opened to see the enormity of my offence against God, the injuries which others have done to me appear by comparison to be extremely trifling.
If, on the other hand, I have an exaggerated view of the offences of others, it proves that I have minimized our own. It is the disparity between the size of debts which is the main point of the parable of the unmerciful servant.
Am I a merciful servant? I must consider this from my Master Jesus.
At that point Peter got up the nerve to ask, “Master, how many times do I forgive a brother or sister who hurts me? Seven?”
Jesus replied, “Seven! Hardly. Try seventy times seven.
“The kingdom of God is like a king who decided to square accounts with his slaves. As he got under way, one slave was brought before him who had run up a debt of a hundred thousand dollars. He couldn’t pay up, so the king ordered the man, along with his wife, children, and goods, to be auctioned off at the slave market.
“The poor wretch threw himself at the king’s feet and begged, ‘Give me a chance and I’ll pay it all back.’ Touched by his plea, the king let him off, erasing the debt.
“The slave was no sooner out of the room when he came upon one of his fellow slaves who owed him ten dollars. He seized him by the throat and demanded, ‘Pay up. Now!’
“The poor wretch threw himself down and begged, ‘Give me a chance and I’ll pay it all back.’ But he wouldn’t do it. He had him arrested and put in jail until the debt was paid. When the other servants saw this going on, they were outraged and brought a detailed report to the king.
“The king summoned the man and said, ‘You evil slave! I forgave your entire debt when you begged me for mercy. Shouldn’t you be compelled to be merciful to your fellow slave who asked for mercy?’ The king was furious and put the screws to the man until he paid back his entire debt. And that’s exactly what my Father in heaven is going to do to each one of you who doesn’t forgive unconditionally anyone who asks for mercy.” | Matthew 18:21-35
Why should I forgive? It is all about love. It is all about mercy. That is the way of God. God is loving, kind and forgiving.
- Romans 5:8 (NASB) — But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, the Messiah died for us.
- 1 Corinthians 13:4–5 (NASB) — Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered,
- Psalm 86:5 (NASB) — For You, Master, are good, and ready to forgive, And abundant in lovingkindness to all who call upon You.
- Psalm 130:3–4 (NASB) — If You, Master, should mark iniquities, O Master, who could stand? 4 But there is forgiveness with You, That You may be feared.
- Daniel 9:9 (NASB) — “To the Master our God belong compassion and forgiveness, for we have rebelled against Him;
- Micah 7:18 (NASB) — Who is a God like You, who pardons iniquity And passes over the rebellious act of the remnant of His possession? He does not retain His anger forever, Because He delights in unchanging love.
- Acts 13:38 (NASB) — “Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through Him forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you,
- Romans 15:7 (NASB) — Therefore, accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God.
- 2 Corinthians 2:5–11 (NASB) — But if any has caused sorrow, he has caused sorrow not to me, but in some degree—in order not to say too much—to all of you. Sufficient for such a one is this punishment which was inflicted by the majority, so that on the contrary you should rather forgive and comfort him, otherwise such a one might be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. Wherefore I urge you to reaffirm your love for him. For to this end also I wrote, so that I might put you to the test, whether you are obedient in all things. But one whom you forgive anything, I forgive also; for indeed what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, I did it for your sakes in the presence of Christ, so that no advantage would be taken of us by Satan, for we are not ignorant of his schemes.
- Ephesians 4:32 (NASB) — Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in the Messiah also has forgiven you.
- Colossians 3:13 (NASB) — bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.