In all my years, all the sermons and lessons I’ve heard, all the ones I’ve prepared, all the reading I have done, I haven’t really come across much talk about the role of forgiveness in our lives. At least, no other way than that of how Jesus died for and is willing to forgive us of our sins. Recently that has changed though. Hopefully you have already noticed how we are expected to forgive, and have been practicing forgiveness better than I have. I would like to share a couple of things that have stood out, to me, lately.
First is an example given to us in the form of a parable. The parable is found in Matthew chapter 18, and runs from verse 23 through verse 35. This parable comes about after Peter asks Jesus how many times he should forgive a brother that sins against him.
In verse 23, Jesus tells Peter that the “kingdom of heaven is likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants.” So, we have this king coming to collect debts due to him, by his servants. The king has a servant that owes him a sum of money that the servant cannot pay, so the king commands the servant and his family to be sold. The profits from the sale would be used to pay the debt.
The servant falls at the feet of the lord and begs his patience, promising to pay off his debt. The servant’s plea moves the lord. The lord frees the servant from his bonds and forgives him of his debts.
Afterward, this same servant goes out and finds a fellowservant that owes him. He takes the fellowservant by the neck and tells him to pay up. Other fellowservants see this, and tell the lord.
The lord calls the servant to him. He asks the servant if he shouldn’t have shown the same compassion that was shown to him, and forgiven the fellowservant’s debt. Then, in his anger, the lord takes the servant, “and delivered him to the tormentors” until the debt was paid.
Ending in verse 35 Jesus says, “So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not everyone his brother their trespasses.” That’s the part I was talking about that I have never really heard talked about. Jesus tells Peter, straight up, that just like the king in the parable, if we do not forgive our brethren, then our Father will not forgive us. Not only is it a good thing to do, it is something we must do if we want to be found pleasing in God’s eyes!
Let’s look at another passage. Matthew 6:9-13 holds what is commonly called “The Lord’s Prayer.” The part of this example prayer that I want to look at is verse 12, and then a couple verses after the prayer.
Verse 12 – “And forgive our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” Here we see again both sides of the coin. The act of being forgiven and the act of forgiving. Then in verses 14 & 15, Jesus takes the time to talk about forgiveness. Notice, out of all the subjects mentioned in this prayer, all the things Jesus could talk about, forgiveness is the only topic Jesus takes time to teach on, here. So, right away we can infer that this must be important to Him.
The two verses (14 & 15) are very straightforward. Jesus tells us in verse 14, that if we forgive, our Father will forgive us. But, in 15 Jesus tells us that if we do not forgive, our Father will not forgive us. We must be willing to do what it is we are wanting to have done for us. Both the parable shows us this by example, and Jesus tells us this as plainly as can be said.
In our prayers, usually the first thing, or one of the first, we ask for is forgiveness of our sins. After realizing what God expects of us toward forgiving, I had to take time not to ask for forgiveness, but to ask for help to forgive others! As I said earlier, I hope you have already been made more keenly aware about the role of forgiveness in our Christian walk, and I hope you are better at it than I have been. If, like me though, you haven’t heard much about it from this aspect, nor have you thought about it from this aspect before, I hope this post will help you see forgiveness is a new light.
In closing, I would like to encourage us all to be more forgiving in our everyday lives! It is good for us, and it is expected of us, by God.