Forgiving From The Heart

Posted by Rev. Brittany Smith
"21 Then Peter came and said to Him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” 22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven. 23 “For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. 24 When he had begun to settle them, one who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him. 25 But since he did not have the means to repay, his lord commanded him to be sold, along with his wife and children and all that he had, and repayment to be made. 26 So the slave fell to the ground and prostrated himself before him, saying, ‘Have patience with me and I will repay you everything.’ 27 And the lord of that slave felt compassion and released him and forgave him the debt. 28 But that slave went out and found one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred denarii; and he seized him and began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay back what you owe.' 29 So his fellow slave fell to the ground and began to plead with him, saying, ‘Have patience with me and I will repay you.’ 30 But he was unwilling and went and threw him in prison until he should pay back what was owed. 31 So when his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were deeply grieved and came and reported to their lord all that had happened. 32 Then summoning him, his lord *said to him, 'You wicked slave, I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me.33 Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow slave, in the same way that I had mercy on you?' 34 And his lord, moved with anger, handed him over to the torturers until he should repay all that was owed him.35 My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart."     - Matthew 18:21-35

In Matthew 18:21-35, Jesus tells the story of the slave who was forgiven of a huge debt by his lord, a debt he was unable to repay. After this man had received such great mercy and was released of his debt, he went out and found a slave who owed him a small amount of money. This slave pleaded for more time to repay the man the amount owed, but he would not allow it. Instead, he had him thrown in prison. When the lord heard his slave refused to forgive, he called him back, reinstated the initial punishment, and had him sent to the torturers until he repaid every bit of the debt that was owed. The man who was forgiven much was unwilling to forgive another of even a little and that disheartened his master greatly.

In God’s kingdom, mercy and forgiveness work the same way. We are called to forgive because Christ has forgiven us. We are to be merciful because Christ has been merciful to us. It’s not ok to hold ill-will against someone who has done you wrong or mistreated you. When Peter asked Jesus how many times he needed to forgive a person who had wronged him, Jesus’ response was more than Peter imagined. He thought forgiving seven times in a day was quite a feat, but not to Jesus. Jesus told him even if someone sinned against their brother seventy times seven, which is 490 times, in one day, they should still be forgiven again! It really does not matter how many times someone may do you wrong, you are still required by the God of heaven and earth to forgive no matter what!

Why must we forgive? Because Jesus has been so gracious to us! He died for and forgave all the sins of the world, and He did it without demanding any type of repayment. He did it regardless of whether we ever come to Him and receive the free gift of Salvation. He did it because He loved us with a love this world has never seen before or since. God loves us with an everlasting love and nothing we could ever do will change that love. Now as believers, children of the love God, He expects us to go out into the world and act in that same love to those around us. We are to love and forgive others the same way Christ has chosen to pour out His great love and forgiveness on us!