The scriptures repeatedly speak of how important it is that we forgive those who have sinned against us if we are to have our sins forgiven by God. We can see it when we hear Jesus tell His disciples how they should pray to our Father in heaven.
He said that when we pray we should ask the Father to, “Give us this day our daily bread. `And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” (Matthew 6:11-12)
He told them, "For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. "But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.” (Matthew 6:14-15)
I do not believe that the Christian world has stressed this message enough. In years passed I have not stressed it. I often pray for forgiveness of my sins but never do I ask God to forgive me as I have forgiven others.
He makes the application anyway. He will forgive me like I have forgiven others whether it is included in my prayer or not. If I hold things against others God will hold my sins against me.
Jesus confirms that when He says, "Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father who is in heaven will also forgive you your transgressions. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father who is in heaven forgive your transgressions." (Mark 11:25-26)
Jesus said that I should forgive anything that I have against anyone if I want the Father to forgive my transgressions. What about those people who have done some really bad things to me in the past?
There are some things that are hard to forgive. Does God expect me to forgive them of everything, even those awful things they did?
We heard Jesus say that if I refuse to forgive others then my Father will not forgive me. Jesus gives us an example of that when He answers a question from Peter.
Peter asked Jesus, "Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?" Jesus said to him, "I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.” (Matthew 18:21-22)
Jesus will then explain how God will judge His servants. He is speaking in a parable to explain to us how those who have already been forgiven of their sins can lose their forgiveness. Christ’s disciples will hear the message.
He says, "For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. "When he had begun to settle them, one who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him. "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. "So the slave fell to the ground and prostrated himself before him, saying, `Have patience with me and I will repay you everything.' "And the lord of that slave felt compassion and released him and forgave him the debt.” (Matthew 18:23-27)
This is us if we have believed in Jesus and obeyed the gospel. We have been forgiven of all our debt. We have been forgiven of a debt so great that it required Jesus to die on the cross to redeem us.
Jesus will continue the parable with a special message to those of us who have been forgiven of our debts and saved but may not be very forgiving toward our brother after that.
He says, "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.' "So his fellow slave fell to the ground and began to plead with him, saying, `Have patience with me and I will repay you.' "But he was unwilling and went and threw him in prison until he should pay back what was owed.” (Verses 28-30)
That first slave had been forgiven a debt that would be more than he could earn in a lifetime. His master forgave all of his debt but that slave then refused to have mercy on a fellow slave that owed him a debt that was trivial by comparison.
We need to hear the message. Again, we are the first slave if we have accepted Jesus and become a Christian. God has forgiven our debt but if we then refuse to forgive a brother, Jesus is speaking to us in what He says next.
He says of that unforgiving slave, "So when his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were deeply grieved and came and reported to their lord all that had happened. "Then summoning him, his lord said to him, `You wicked slave, I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. `Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow slave, in the same way that I had mercy on you?' "And his lord, moved with anger, handed him over to the torturers until he should repay all that was owed him. My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart.” (Matthew 18:31-35)
began that parable by saying the kingdom of
heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his
Our goal is to receive the kingdom of heaven.
Some Christians can’t hear the message in that parable. No debt that my brother owes me in this life can compare to the debt that I owed the Master. If I have been forgiven of my debt but refuse to forgive my brother, God will reapply that old debt back to my account. I will have lost my salvation and the kingdom of heaven because I held some trivial mistake against my brother.
To make sure we get the message Jesus tells us in another place, "Do not judge, and you will not be judged; and do not condemn, and you will not be condemned; pardon, and you will be pardoned. "Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure--pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return." (Luke 6:37-38)
I must even forgive those who have not asked for forgiveness. We can see an example of that in how Jesus forgave those who were crucifying Him.
He prayed to the Father, "Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing." And they cast lots, dividing up His garments among themselves.” (Luke 23:34)
I have never had anyone who sinned against me like those people sinned against Christ when they were nailing Him to the cross. He says that I must forgive others like He forgave.
In His sermon on the Mount Jesus tells us, "Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.” (Matthew 5:23-24)
He was speaking to Jews who were still living under the Law of Moses. They were required to offer sacrifices at God’s house. Jesus told them to be sure that their brother has nothing against them before they make their offering to God.
That message still applies under the new covenant. He is speaking of me having sinned against my brother, not my brother having sinned against me. I must try to make things right.
already heard Jesus say that when we stand
praying, if we have anything against anyone we should forgive them
pray. We should forgive them even
if they have not asked for forgiveness.
I must forgive all people who have sinned against me whether they try to make it right or not. I must go the extra mile, however, and do my best to make things right if I offended someone else.
Peter spoke of how husbands and wives are to treat one another so that their prayers will be accepted by God.
After speaking of how wives should be obedient to their husbands, he says of husbands, “You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker, since she is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered.” (1 Peter 3:7)
We husbands must be careful how we treat our wives so that our prayers will not be hindered. If I refuse to show her understanding then I may be offering prayers to God that He will refuse to hear.
Some Christians are busy doing church work but they fail to do the most important things. Above all else we must do the important things.
We repeatedly preach the gospel message of salvation to the lost. We tell people that they must obey the gospel to be saved. We tell them how to do that. We also tell them that they must continue to live godly lives and that includes regular church attendance.
I have not, however, been telling them that living a Godly life includes forgiving others as we have been forgiven. I have not done a good job of telling them that after they have been saved they could lose their salvation if they don’t show forgiveness toward others, especially toward the brethren.
The most important thing is to believe in Jesus so that we can have eternal life but if we don’t believe that He means what He says, we don’t really believe in Him.
really does mean what He says. He
says that when that last day comes we will be
forgiven just as we have forgiven others.
James tells us to, “So speak and so act as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty. For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment.” (James 2:12-13)
When I appear before God for judgment I will be judged by the law of liberty. Under that law God will show mercy to those who have shown mercy. Mercy will triumph over judgment if I have shown mercy. Judgment will be merciless, however, if I have not shown mercy.
Life on this earth is like a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away (James ). We have not been placed on this earth to live for what pleases us during this short period of time. We must try to please Jesus. He will be pleased if we show mercy toward others.
If we hold grudges against others, especially against our brethren in the church, it could cost us eternal life and the kingdom of heaven.
Jesus has given His disciples many commandments and He demands obedience. I know that I will fall short in my obedience to Him in this life but there is one commandment that I must strive to obey above all else.
I need to go more than the extra mile and forgive all of my debtors no matter what they may have done to me so that Jesus will do likewise for me.
want to receive all of the forgiveness that I can get. I will
receive it just as I have given it.
Image of the cross is from FreeFoto.com
quotations taken from the New American Standard
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