Bible Passage: Matthew 18:21-35
You have undoubtedly heard the expression, fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me! The expression insinuates that the person should forgive the offender one time, but that they should be keeping an eye on the person who hurt them. Then the next time, they should not be so forgiving. It means that the person should be aware of the hurt, sleeping with one eye open, and marking that person in a way that they will not hurt them again. But what does Jesus teach about forgiveness? What is God’s command concerning this topic?
In the American & western cultures today, we are taught that we are all victims of something. I am a victim of my parent’s poor decisions, or a victim of a friend, spouses’ or co-workers bad choice. We are taught in this society to “cope” with these things, to talk about the hurt and pain, and to accept everyone as they are because they are a product of their environment, just as you are of yours. If we do these things, we will somehow be better.
Jesus’ teachings are in stark contrast to these philosophies. In fact, the Bible teaches that we are all sinners (Romans 3:23) and not a product of our environments. We are sinful from birth (Psalm 51:5) because of our sin natures and that there is no good in us and in our inherent natures (Romans 7:13-25).
So if we are all sinners and have sin natures and those who would do wrong to me are sinners; and I do wrong to others because I am a sinner, then where does the merry-go-round stop? Do we then have any hope? Shouldn’t we all just accept who we are and do what comes natural to us? I should just accept the fact that I will do wrong and sin away! I mean, I only live life once! Life’s a party! Or insert whatever phrase helps you “cope” with another week.
Since the inception of the sinful nature in man, which is Adam and Eve’s rebellion against God, God has had a plan for mankind to be able to be forgiven of their sins. The ultimate plan was to have a permanent solution in place for mankind to be able to be forgiven of their shortcomings, their sins. This plan was none other than God sending His Son to earth to die for every sin of every sinner. He then rose again on the third day and ascended to heaven. This is God’s plan of forgiveness!
Think of every wrongdoing that you have ever done, even the ones that no one knows about. Think about the sins that you have committed that if anyone were to know about, your reputation would be tarnished forever. God says that He has forgiven you for those sins. They are really sins against God. Because God is Holy and perfect and His commandments are perfect, if you have broken any of His commandments, you have sinned against God. Yes, you have done wrong against those people that you have hurt also, but the real problem is that you have done wrong directly against The perfect and Holy God Himself.
And now God has created one way for you to connect with Him again! In this one way, He wants you to have an intimate relationship with Him. That one way is by believing in Jesus Christ and following Him. It is a simple process but yet so hard for many to follow.
The problem that many have is usually in their self reliance. But remember, that we are flawed human beings and would you put your trust in someone with as many problems as you have? I wouldn’t! Would you rather trust an eternal God who has had a plan since day one for your life? I would and Have!
But let’s boil down this forgiving others thing! I had to build some groundwork for you to understand the final point of forgiving others. The truth lies in what God did and continues to do for us!
Peter asked Jesus how many times he should have to forgive someone before he didn’t have to forgive them anymore. Peter thought seven times was quite a lot and no doubt it is. In fact, I am usually ready to call it quits after 2 or 3 times myself, if I go by how I feel. I feel like there is some sort of protection that I owe myself after being burned by someone several times. But Jesus answered back that we need to forgive 70 times 7 times. Now 490 times is quite a lot! But I think that we are missing the point if we think that we need to have some sort of webpage counter going for everyone that hits our sinned against page for a particular sin. I don’t need to have some sort of database running of who sinned against me so that I can cut a person off once they hit the 490 counter! Have the database text me so that I coule get notified and I would say “Oops, you lied to me 489 times, One more lie and I no longer have to forgive you”! That’s not how it works! 70 times 7 was a poetic phrase in that culture that showed that there was no end to the times that you should forgive someone.
In fact, Jesus makes it very clear that there are strings attached to the forgiveness that we are given from God! In several passages, He states that if we do not forgive other people for the sins that they do against us, that the Heavenly Father will not forgive us for our sins. That is very serious business. Why does Jesus say this? Because there is a loving and forgiving heart of one who has truly been forgiven their sins by the Heavenly Father, the Holy Spirit gives them a heart of tenderness towards others. When we know that we deserve eternal Hell forever, and somehow God has forgiven all of our rottenness, we tend to let things slide with other people also.
You see the opposite of forgiveness is bitterness! And bitterness is not a fruit of the Holy Spirit. Bitterness and love / forgiveness cannot be in the heart at the same time towards another person. They are complete opposites. If God is love then what room do you have in your heart for bitterness?
So, let’s boil this down further. If you have accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior and you have asked God for forgiveness, then God has forgiven you of your sins, completely…all of them. And since God has forgiven you of all of your ugly, rotten sin, what recourse do we have but to forgive EVERYONE of their sins against us? And there are no prerequisites to us forgiving them, God doesn’t say, you forgive them if they ask for it or if they apologize in a nice way to us. It is a command to forgive Everyone of every sin that has been done to us and to forgive them whether they are a friend or an enemy! We need to forgive others freely, without holding back!
You see, God knows that if we do not forgive and we let bitterness take hold in out lives, that the bitterness towards that person will destroy us. It will wreak havoc in all the other areas in our lives. It will decimate your live, period. So let it go!
Now, the only way to truly be able to show someone else the love that God shows us through forgiveness, is by being forgiven ourselves. If you haven’t been forgiven yourself from God, it is about time that you start. It is a rather simple thing to have done. You confess your belief and faith in Jesus Christ, confess that He died for your sins on the cross, and that He rose again the third day! You need to repent of your sins, confess your wrongdoings to Him, and ask God to forgive you of your sins. Then and only then, can you truly forgive everyone else of their wrong-doings against you!
This seems to simple and it is, God made it simple, but many people like to overcomplicate this process. Then and only then will you not have to “cope” for another week, but you will live in freedom, in a loving relationship with the Holy and Living God and you will have true peace with those around you.
Colossians 3:13 says “Bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.”
If you have any more questions after reading this or if you have committed your life to following Jesus Christ for the first time. I would love to hear from you! Please send me a message and contact me!
Bible Passage: Matthew 18:21-35
21 Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?”
22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven. 23 Therefore the kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24 And when he had begun to settle accounts, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. 25 But as he was not able to pay, his master commanded that he be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and that payment be made. 26 The servant therefore fell down before him, saying, ‘Master, have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ 27 Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt.
28 “But that servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and he laid hands on him and took him by the throat, saying, ‘Pay me what you owe!’ 29 So his fellow servant fell down at his feet and begged him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ 30 And he would not, but went and threw him into prison till he should pay the debt. 31 So when his fellow servants saw what had been done, they were very grieved, and came and told their master all that had been done. 32 Then his master, after he had called him, said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. 33 Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?’ 34 And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him.
35 “So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.”