By Ana Renee
“Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?” (Matthew 18:21)
This phrase has probably echoed in our minds fairly often. “Surely I don’t have to forgive him for that.” or “God will understand why I can’t forgive her for this.”
Forgiveness is a very difficult issue, but one that is of vital importance.
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Why is Forgiveness so important?
Forgiveness is very important in the sight of God. It is because of His great forgiveness that we can have hope of eternal life (see Ephesians 1:3, 7). For this sole reason, we ought to forgive others.
“. . . even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.” (Colossians 3:13b)
“And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving on another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” (Ephesians 4:32)
Another reason to forgive is obedience to Christ’s command. When Peter asked the question, “Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him?” Jesus answered, “Until seventy times seven.” (Matthew 18: 21-22). He continued to explain forgiveness in a parable:
“Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants. And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents. But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made. The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt. But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellowservants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest. And his fellowservant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt. So when his fellowservants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done. Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me: Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee? And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him. So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses” (Matthew 18:23-35
Like the first servant, we have been forgiven the greatest debt that we can never hope to pay. Will we in return refuse to forgive a small debt of a fellow-servant?
How should we forgive?
It is easy to say, “I forgive you,” but it is difficult to actually live forgiveness. Forgiveness is a heart issue, not a mouth issue. We should not have to make someone beg for our forgiveness. Instead, we should be willing to forgive even before they ask without any hopes that they will ask.
Forgiveness is not
~Spreading rumors about the person who has offended us
~Continually bringing up the offense
~Shunning the person who has offended us
When God forgave us, He wiped the slate clean. He no longer sees us as transgressors, but as heirs (see Titus 3:7). We should follow His example and forgive without down upon the offender.
Proverbs 17:9 says, “He that covereth a transgression seeketh love;” God covered our transgression because of His love; we should cover another’s transgression because of love.
It does not matter how “wrong” the other person was. God will one day look at our heart and judge us accordingly. Will He see a heart full of bitter un-forgiveness, or a tender heart of love and forgiveness? We must start today by asking Him to reveal any roots of un-forgiveness in our hearts then work to change that feeling to one of love and forgiveness in obedience to His Word.