Romans 12: 17-21 = Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do all that you can to live at peace with everyone. Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay,” says the Lord. Instead, “If your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty, give them something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals of shame on their heads.” Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good.
By giving an enemy a drink, we’re not excusing his misdeeds. We’re recognizing him, forgiving him, and loving him in spite of his sins, just as Christ did for us.
Matthew 18: 21-22 = Then Peter came to Him and asked, “Lord, How often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?” “No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven!”
Jesus said we are to forgive someone 490 times. I have trouble imagining someone sinning against me 490 times! Jesus is actually saying that there should be no limit to our forgiveness.
Let’s return to Matthew 18: 23-35 for the parable of the unforgiving debtor.
“Therefore the Kingdom of heaven can be compared to a king who decided to bring his accounts up to date with servants who had borrowed money from him. In the process, one of his debtors was brought in who owed him 10,000 talents. He couldn’t pay, so his master ordered that he be sold – along with his wife, his children, and everything he owned – to pay the debt. But the man fell down before his master and begged him, ‘Please be patient with me, and I will pay it all.’ Then the master was filled with pity for him, and he released him and forgave his debt. But when the man left the king, he went to a fellow servant who owed him 100 denarii. He grabbed him by the throat and demanded instant payment. His fellow servant fell down before him and begged for a little more time. ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it,’ he pleaded. But his creditor wouldn’t wait. He had the man arrested and put in prison until the debt could be paid in full. When some of the other servants saw this, they were very upset. They went to the king and told him everything that had happened. Then the king called in the man he had forgiven and said, ‘You evil servant! I forgave you that tremendous debt because you pleaded with me. Shouldn’t you have mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you?’ Then the angry king sent the man to prison to be tortured until he paid his entire debt. That’s what my heavenly Father will do to you if you refuse to forgive your brothers and sisters from your heart.”
A talent is a unit of measure equaling 375 tons. Had the debt been gold, the current value of the debt would be billions. A denarius was equivalent to a laborer’s full day’s wage. And so 100 denarii would be equal to about 4 month’s pay.
The first servant was forgiven his debt of 10,000 talents, but he would not forgive his fellow servant who owed him 100 denarii. The first servant’s debt of billions was unpayable, just as our debt to God was unpayable.
None of us deserve to be forgiven by God. Throughout our lives we have sinned against the Lord. We have wronged God on countless occasions, many of those times being the occasions when we refused to forgive. However, through the blood of Christ, we have been forgiven. Salvation is a gift from God.
We may begin to think about others who have wronged us:
- Someone may have stolen $50,000 from you
- Someone may have had an affair with your spouse
- Someone may have betrayed your trust in a major way.
All of those sins against us don’t even compare to the great sins we have committed against God. Any debt that could be owed to us is insignificant compared to the debt of which we have been forgiven, just as Jesus shows us in the parable of the unforgiving debtor.
If we fail to forgive others as we have been forgiven, then this parable teaches us that we can, once again, become liable for the debt that had been forgiven.
God has forgiven our sins. We must now forgive those who have wronged us. To remain unforgiving shows we have not understood that we ourselves deeply need to be forgiven. Think of those people who have wronged you. Have you forgiven them? How will God deal with you if He treats you as you treat others?
In Colossians 3: 13-14, Paul wrote: “Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.”
In Matthew 6: 14-15, Jesus says, “If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.”
It is easy to ask God for forgiveness but difficult to grant it to others. Whenever we ask God to forgive us for sin, we should ask ourselves, “Have I forgiven the people who have wronged me?”
In Mark 11: 25, Jesus says, “But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too.”
In the Lord’s prayer we pray, “And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”
In Ephesians 4: 31-32, the Scriptures say: Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be good to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.
Harboring unforgiveness is like drinking poison hoping the other person will die. Many times the person who wronged us doesn’t even know what they did to us. We are hurting ourselves, not them. By not forgiving them, we not only continue to carry around a heavy load with us everywhere, but we are showing God that we don’t appreciate how He has forgiven us.
We may say, “I love God. I just don’t love this person who has hurt me.” Then you are deceived and you do not love God for it is written in 1 John 4: 20-21: “If someone says, ‘I love God,’but hates a Christian brother or sister, that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see? And He has given us this command: Those who love God must also love their Christian brothers and sisters.”
Deception is a terrible thing, for a deceived person believes with all his/her heart that he/she is right. Then one day he/she will stand in front of the Lord and say, “Lord! Lord! I prophesied in your name and cast demons out in your name and performed many miracles in your name.” But God will reply, “I never knew you. Depart from me all you workers of iniquity.” Matthew 7: 21-23.
A person that cannot forgive has forgotten the great debt for which they were forgiven. When we realize that Jesus delivered us from eternal death and torment, it should help us to release others unconditionally. When we have a hard time forgiving, we need to think of the reality of hell and the love of God that saved us from it.
In Luke 6: 27-28, Jesus said, “But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you.” I admit this isn’t easy to do! Jesus wasn’t telling us to have affection for our enemies. He was telling us to act in their best interests by praying for them and thinking of ways we can help them. Romans 12: 14 says = “Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them.”
Sometimes excuses are given for harboring unforgiveness. Unforgiveness is considered to be a lesser sin than homosexuality, adultery, theft, envy, and so on. But those who practice unforgiveness will not inherit the Kingdom of God along with those who practice the other sins.
This may come off as a hard message, but we can use it as a message of mercy and warning, not of harsh judgment.
Would you rather be convicted by the Holy Spirit now and experience true repentance and forgiveness? Or would you rather refuse to forgive and hear the Master say, “Depart from me,” when you can no longer repent?
Therefore, we must repent of our unforgiveness towards others. True repentance is more than talk – it is changed behavior.
God Bless You All