As hard as it may be, forgiving others is critical to receiving the forgiveness we so need and desire from God. Let me remind you again, Jesus said “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” ” (Matthew 6:14-15).
When questioned about forgiveness by the Apostle Peter, Jesus illustrated the importance and true issue of forgiveness with a parable found in Matthew chapter 18, verse 23 through 35…
“Therefore the kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. “And when he had begun to settle accounts, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. (In today’s economy, an amount of money equivalent to millions of dollars) But as he was not able to pay, his master commanded that he be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and that payment be made.
“The servant therefore fell down before him, saying, ‘Master, have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ “Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt.
“But that servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii (an amount of money equivalent to a few dollars); and he laid hands on him and took him by the throat, saying, ‘Pay me what you owe!’ “So his fellow servant fell down at his feet and begged him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ “And he would not, but went and threw him into prison till he should pay the debt.
“So when his fellow servants saw what had been done, they were very grieved, and came and told their master all that had been done. “Then his master, after he had called him, said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. ‘Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?’
“And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him. “So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.”
Like the wicked servant, when we receive the free gift of salvation from the Lord through His only Son, Jesus Christ, our debts (the sins we’ve committed) are forgiven. The slate is wiped clean. That’s Good News directly from God’s Word!
Like the wicked servant in the parable, we had millions of offenses (debts we were obligated to pay God for) piled up. When we trust in the salvation offered through Jesus Christ, in one sweep of His forgiving hand God wrote off all of our debts. And still, just like the wicked servant, we often want to require others, who owe us a mere pittance (in comparison to the great debt we owed) to pay us in full and right now!
Though we were shown amazing grace and mercy by the One we offended so greatly, we want to throw the bums who offended us in prison (our emotional prison if not a literal prison) until we are satisfied that they have suffered enough.
Go ahead; demand your rights. Go ahead; get even. Show them they can’t get away with treating you that way. Show no mercy. Make them sorry they ever messed with you. And while you are exacting your pound of flesh, think how God will respond to that type of attitude? Jesus told us God, the Father, will treat us the same way the king treated his wicked servant. Unless we forgive others, He will not forgive us.
Who are you holding in the “debtors prison” of your heart? Are you treating them the way you want God to treat you? Are you willing to throw away God’s eternal mercy in order to gain a moment of earthly satisfaction?
The Bible is clear; God forgives us only if we forgive in kind. A wise man once said “We are most like beasts when we kill. We are most like men when we judge. We are most like God when we forgive.”
Determine to be more like God this week. Begin the process of forgiving others who have trespassed against you.