In Matthew 18:21-35 We will find Peter asking Jesus how many times he should forgive. “Up to seven times?” Peter asks, thinking he’s gone above and beyond what’s expected. But Jesus replied “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.”
Jesus continues on with a parable about the non-forgiving servant. There was a servant who owed the king a huge debt and the servant pleaded and begged the king to let him pay it off. The king had pity and canceled the debt and let him go. The servant then went to a man who owed him a smaller debt and had him thrown in jail until he could pay it all back. The king heard what had happened and had the servant thrown in jail until he could repay the king his debt. Matthew 18:35 says “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”
Jesus wanted us to understand the importance of how He has forgiven us, and wants us to walk in forgiveness and also extend forgiveness to others. When we stay stuck in a state of unforgiveness we lock ourselves into a prison. In Galatians 5:1 it says “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Jesus does not want us to harbor unforgiveness in our hearts. He came to set us free from those things that can bind us and hold us back from all He has for us!
The mark of a true Christ follower is that of forgiveness given and forgiveness sought because of God’s forgiveness of our sin. As the NT Wright the great theologian and pastor once wrote, “The heart that will not open to forgive others will remain closed when God’s own forgiveness is offered.”
“Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.”
Forgiveness does not make sense in our world. The world tells us we don’t have to forgive. It doesn’t stop there and even tells us we should seek our own revenge. But if we are called to be set apart from the world, when we hold onto unforgiveness we look just like the rest of the world. How do we then expect a world that is full of darkness to ever experience the light if the light never shines?
It’s a choice to extend forgiveness. We forgive because Jesus forgave us! When grace is present we can start to see lives changed. Let’s forgive, seek forgiveness, and always keep in mind that because of Christ, we are forgiven.