How Often Shall I Forgive My Brother?
Then Peter came to Him and said, "Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times? Matthew 18:21
The Christian life revolves around forgiveness and mercy freely given to us by God's grace in the sacrifice of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Because we have been forgiven much we are to forgive in return, even if its not our fault.
Peter questioned Jesus wanting to establish a statute for forgiveness by asking if seven times seven would be enough to forgive his brother. Jesus answered him and said to forgive him seventy times seven and I don't think He meant for him to stop at 490 times. Then He told a story about a man who was forgiven much but neglected to forgive in return.
The story is about a man who owed his master ten thousand talents, a great sum of money in those days, but he was unable to repay the debt. His master commanded that he be sold into slavery along with his family and all that he owned, and that payment be made. The man fell down before his master and begged him to have patience with him until he could repay the debt.
The man's master was moved with compassion and forgave him the debt, completely wiped it out because he begged for mercy. The man should have jumped for joy, but instead went out and found a fellow servant who owed him a fraction of what he had owed his master and grabbed him and choked him, demanding that he should pay what he owed. The servant fell down at his feet and begged him just like he had done with his master and yet he would not forgive him, but went and threw him in prison until he paid up.
The master's servants heard what had happened and reported to him about his servant's unforgiveness toward his fellow servant and his master was moved this time with anger and rebuked him for his lack of mercy. He told him because he had received such great mercy concerning his debt, should he not have had mercy on his fellow servant?
"Then his master, after he had called him, said to him, 'You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. 'Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?' Matthew 18:32,33
The Lord Jesus Christ died a horrible excruciating death that we might receive the benefit of this one act of mercy to cleanse us of every evil deed that we ever did or thought about doing. We have been forgiven much and because of His great mercy and grace toward us, we in return must forgive everyone without reservation, no matter what the transgression.
Forgiving those that don't deserve it is ludicrous, from day one we are taught, "An eye for an eye" and yet we have been shown such a great act of mercy that we don't have the luxury of holding anyone in the bondage of unforgiveness. Forgive and we will be forgiven is the very heart of the gospel of Christ, however we want to be treated is how we are to treat others. The world doesn't understand this kind of mercy and that is why it is so important for us as believers to demonstrate to them the love, mercy and grace of God.
We are the only example the world has of the living expression of Jesus on this planet, how we act toward each other is what is being displayed among the lost and dying, our testimony and witness of God's great sacrifice is our message of grace. The good news is this: "Your sins, though they are many, are forgiven."
The story of the unforgiving servant didn't end well, nor does any act of unforgiveness that we choose to hold over the heads of those that have hurt us or disappointed us. Unforgivenss always involves torment, either bitterness or rage or retaliation, the results are the same. Many of the worlds ills are attributed to unforgivenss: arthritis, heart disease, cancer and many other auto-immune diseases are a direct result of unforgiveness.
If you are holding someone in bondage because of something they did to you, release them and forgive them the debt, you will be liberated by the release of darkness that has surrounded you and you will be amazed at the freedom your heart will feel towards those that you have chosen to forgive. The love of God will flood your soul as you forgive and forget all of those debts, just as you are forgiven, so in turn, forgive!
"And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers (tormentors) until he should pay all that was due to him. "So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother (and sister) their trespasses." Matthew 18:34,35