Did you know God forgives you even when you don’t forgive yourself? In this blog, I want to talk about forgiveness. Has someone in your life wronged you more than once? You keep forgiving them, and they keep doing you wrong. Peter was likely thinking of someone like this when he asked Jesus, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” (Matthew 18:21).
When you know people abuse your kindness, it makes you want to not forgive them. However, God expects that you continue to forgive them. The only way you can truly forgive someone is to experience God’s love. God expressed His amazing love when He offered up His own Son as a sacrifice on the cross. His sacrifice redeemed us from death and paid the ultimate debt that you or I could never pay.
What It Means to Pardon Someone
To forgive is to stop feeling angry or resentful toward someone for a misunderstanding, an offense, or a flaw. Right? Not so fast! When God forgives, He makes a conscious decision that does not involve His emotions. God does not say, “I forgive you, but I’m never gonna forget the time you lied about going to church.”
When we forgive someone, it does not necessarily mean that we stop feeling angry. Some people say when we pardon someone, we should forget the offense altogether. To forgive is to make a conscious decision to both, release and pardon the offender.
Too often, we let our feelings get in the way of true forgiveness. Sure, it feels good to embrace our emotions of hurt. You know, that ‘you’re going to pay for what you did to me,’ feeling. The only way to truly overlook, pardon, or otherwise excuse someone who has hurt you is to release them from the prison that you are keeping them in. However, to effectively release them you, must experience God’s love.
You can experience His love today by inviting Him into your life. God loves you affectionately. As an expression of His remarkable love, God offered up His Son as a sacrifice to redeem us from death. When Jesus paid the sin debt with His life, God forgave you. The way to receive that forgiveness is by faith in the redemptive work of His Son.
Parable of the Unforgiving Servant
“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 millions of dollars. 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 his 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 a few thousand dollars. 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 had paid his entire debt” (Matthew 18:23-34 NLT).
Why We Could Never Pay the Debt
The servant whom the king pardoned owed ten thousand talents. In today’s money one denarii is the equivalent of one day’s work. One talent equals 6,000 denarii or 6,000 days’ wages. Assuming that one day’s wage is $100, it would take an ordinary laborer about 16 years to earn one talent, which equals $600,000. The servant in this parable owed his Master 10,000 talents. It would have taken him 160 years to pay his debt of 10,000 talents. No one lives that long. Although this servant owed an incredible debt that he could never repay, his Master showed compassion, was merciful toward him, and forgave his debt.
We could never pay the debt we owe for sin. But Christ, being compassionate, paid our debt in full at the cross. Hence, the kingdom of heaven operates on the principle of forgiveness. It is God’s will that we live our lives based on this principle.
Why We Should Pardon Others
Jesus paid a debt that we could never pay. Therefore, He expects us to forgive others as He forgave us. He does not want us to be like the ungrateful servant. After his master forgave him, he found a fellow servant who owed him a hundred denarii. A hundred denarii–100 days of work–is about $10,000. He demanded that he pay him. And even though his fellow servant begged for mercy, he still threw him into prison and vowed to leave him there until he had paid all that he owed.
To forgive is a choice. There’s an old saying, “what goes around comes around.” It’s another way of saying, “you will reap what you sow.” The unforgiving servant had every opportunity to show mercy and compassion to his fellow servant, but he chose to be selfish. He chose to forget how his master forgave him for a much greater debt. Don’t hold someone captive to your selfish pride. Before you harden your heart against someone else think back over your life and remember the many times that God forgave you when you didn’t deserve it.
Paid in Full
Imagine a man, beaten beyond recognition; seeing his flesh torn from his body. Watching people repeatedly punch him and snatch fists full of hair from his face. For several years he had been telling people that he was a king, so they made a crown of 6-inch thorns and shoved them into his head. They continually struck him on his head and spat on him. In front of crowds of people, they stripped him of his robe and put a fabulous garment on him, and mocked him as a king (John 19:1-16). As if this cruel torture was not enough, they put a cross on his back and forced him to carry it up a hill where they would nail his hands and feet to the cross and hoist it high on top of the hill for all to see.
This must have been a horrible ordeal for him. The very same people whom he healed were shouting, “Crucify him!” This man was Jesus, and He endured all of this cruelty for you and me. You might be wondering, “Why did He do it?” Jesus endured this torture because he understood the true meaning of forgiveness. Even as He hung on the cross, He called out to His Father and asked that He forgive those who had done this to Him (Luke 23:34). Jesus was the perfect example for us to follow. With His life, He demonstrated why you should forgive. The lesson is a simple one: Forgive because God forgave you.