Have you ever thought what it would be like to be forgiven for everything you have ever done wrong? I mean everything. Even those deep dark secrets that are stuffed away where no one can see. The things that you are so ashamed of and want nobody to know.
The good news is you can. God has made a way through Jesus Christ to be forgiven from every sin you have ever committed. An important thing to remember is that nothing is hidden from God. He sees all. He knows all.
God knows everything you have ever done and one day He will bring it to the light. He will freely forgive anything you confess to Him and repent of doing. There is total forgiveness available through Jesus.
Since God is so willing to forgive us, He wants us to be forgiving people. He wants us to give the same mercy we have received from Him to others who owe us.
One day Peter comes up to Jesus and asks Him a question about forgiveness. He said:
. . . “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’ response would have knocked Peter's socks off had he been wearing any. Jesus was telling Peter that he needs to forgive everyone of everything. It must have seemed impossible to Peter.
Some of the commentaries I’ve read say that the Jewish teaching of the time said that one must forgive a person three times for something they did wrong.
It seems that Peter was expanding the area of forgiveness to seven times, which is pretty charitable. But Jesus expanded the area of forgiveness seventy times more than Peter to a total of 490 times.
Jesus then tells the disciples a parable to illustrate His point about the importance and place of forgiveness in the life of a believer. I want to pull some principles of forgiveness from this opening conversation with Peter and the parable Jesus gave to illustrate his point.
Jesus Wants Us to Forgive Everything
I think it’s safe to say that Jesus wanted Peter to understand that those who follow Him must forgive everyone of everything they have ever done against them. Forgiveness is not a matter of three times or seven times. Forgiveness was to be unlimited.
Jesus was not suggesting that a you keep a log of offences done against you until they hit the magical number of 490, thus allowing you to refuse to forgive. He spoke this number to show that forgiveness must be a continuous practice in the life of a believer.
I believe that Jesus wants forgiveness to become second nature in your life. When someone does something damaging in your life, you should be quick to forgive and release that person to the Lord. The reason being is that unforgiveness is very damaging to your soul.
Every time I make statements like this I can just image the arguments rising up in your mind. Here are a few of the most common:
- “But you don’t know what they did to me.”
- “They will get away with it and I have to bear the pain.
- “It’s unfair. They hurt me and I must forgive them?”
- “They’ve wronged me and I want justice.”
But hold your objections until you read the entire post and understand what Jesus is saying. I hope that many of your objections will be answered along the way.
(To learn more about twenty-four misunderstandings about forgiveness that may be stopping you from being a forgiving person read Twenty-Four Forgiveness Myths Busted!)
Jesus Tells a Parable
Most people call the parable we are going to look at the parable of the unmerciful servant, or the unforgiving servant. Using this title puts all of the focus of the parable on the servant rather than upon the king.
For the purpose of this post I want to look at the actions and reactions of the king, which represent the actions and reactions of God. So we will call this the parable of the merciful and just king.
Let’s look at the parable in the New American Standard version:
23 “For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. 24 When he had begun to settle them, one who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him. 25 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. 26 So the slave fell to the ground and prostrated himself before him, saying, ‘Have patience with me and I will repay you everything.’ 27 And the lord of that slave felt compassion and released him and forgave him the debt. 28 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.’ 29 So his fellow slave fell to the ground and began to plead with him, saying, ‘Have patience with me and I will repay you.’ 30 But he was unwilling and went and threw him in prison until he should pay back what was owed. 31 So when his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were deeply grieved and came and reported to their lord all that had happened. 32 Then summoning him, his lord *said to him, ‘You wicked slave, I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. 33 Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow slave, in the same way that I had mercy on you?’ 34 And his lord, moved with anger, handed him over to the torturers until he should repay all that was owed him. 35 My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart.”
Forgiveness in the Kingdom of Heaven
It is important to study any section of scripture within the context it is written so we’ll be better prepared to understand the meaning of the text. The context for this parable is Peter asking Jesus how many times he should forgive his brother who sins against him.
Peter is asking Jesus how he should respond to being hurt or sinned against in daily life. Therefore, the parable that Jesus gives deals with the here and now. Jesus is telling Peter how things operate in the kingdom of heaven as it is being manifested now on the earth.
Some have thought that this parable is speaking about the time when Jesus returns and that being turned over to the tormentors is person being sent to hell because of his or her unforgiveness. Jesus was not talking about the end of the age but how we are to live life daily here on earth.
There are so many ways that we can be sinned against or hurt in this world. In Luke 17:1, Jesus tells us that “It is impossible that no offenses should come.” We will never be able to shield ourselves completely from the hurtful things of life. People will hurt us.
You and I are going to have plenty of opportunity to put into practice the wisdom Jesus gives us in this parable. As we shall see, it is vital that we learn to become forgiving people.
Next week we will look at the parable itself and the precious truths it contains.
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