Forgive to be Forgiven – Matthew 18:32-35

“Then, after he had summoned him, his master said to him, ‘You wicked slave! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. Shouldn’t you also have had mercy on your fellow slave, as I had mercy on you?’ And his master got angry and handed him over to the jailers to be tortured until he could pay everything that was owed. So My heavenly Father will also do to you if each of you does not forgive his brother from his heart.”

Jesus’ teaching on forgiveness is perfectly fair and thus extremely difficult. He pulls no punches. He has shown us great forgiveness and thus requires the same of His followers. We can rest assured that forgiveness of others is of the utmost importance to Lord Jesus. It will make or break a believer. “For if you forgive others of their sins, then My Heavenly Father will also forgive you. However, if you do not forgive others their sins against you, My Heavenly Father will not forgive you.”

I wonder if most of us understand the gravity of this truth spoken by and illustrated by Lord Jesus repeatedly? To be forgiven requires a forgiving heart toward others. What does that heart’s expression look like? Weakness maybe? Fear? Ignorance? How does one practice such forgiveness without ‘cheapening’ the grace that is required to show it? Forgiveness is hard because it demands humility, acceptance and intention. It does not flow naturally, especially when the offense is grave; i.e. the death of a child at the hands of a drunk driver, marital infidelity, other egregious sins for which repentance is made. I’m tempted to say that it is almost easier for the offender to repent than for the offended to forgive. Maybe that’s an overreach. I know this: there is great power in forgiveness for it requires great sacrifice and selflessness. I also know that the consequences of ‘unforgiveness’ are unthinkable. The unforgiving slave in this parable faced torture until he could repay his enormous debt. I’ll leave it at that. Jesus directness and honesty is deeply disconcerting at times.

Grant us discernment regarding the showing of forgiveness, Lord Jesus. Grant us strength and resolve to forgive, Holy Spirit. Have mercy on our hard hearts, Father God.

Rpst, 1.19.20

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