Forgive them, Jesus repeated that phrase many times during His ministry, but the most striking time; other than the time that cuts me to the core as my sweet Savior is dying on the cross; is the parable of the unforgiving servant. That story it’s a hard one to hear, I mean we are all guilty of being like this servant. We’ve all been wronged by someone at some point in our lives, so we have all had anger towards someone. Sometimes we’ve let that anger build and boil until we act like this guy did, we don’t forgive those who have wronged us, instead we set out to punish them, make them pay. And by doing so we drive them away, we grow hard hearted, and ultimately if we do not repent and forgive them then we damage our testimony and salvation.
See unforgiveness is really hate, and guys hate will eat you alive. It robs you of the joy that comes from forgiving and it makes you a hypocrite before God. See you’ve said you accept his free gift of forgiveness for your sins; and no offense here but your sins are just as bad as everyone else’s in God’s eyes because God is holy, just, perfect so any sin, all sin is equally vile to him; but you are denying forgiveness to your brother. Please head the words of our Lord and Savior – forgive them!
Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven. Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants. And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents. But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made. The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt. But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellowservants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest. And his fellowservant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt. So when his fellowservants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done. Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me: Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee? And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him. So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses. Matthew 18:21-35
And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left. Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots. Luke 23:33-34
For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses. Mark 11:25-26
Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven: Luke 6:37
Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him. Luke 17:3-4
See what I mean, Jesus was serious when he stressed the importance of forgiving one another. Very serious, so serious that the last words he cried out from the cross were “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do”. As your Savior hung there dying nailed to that cross by your sins (and mine), his last plea was to God the Father to forgive us, to forgive all sinners including those who nailed him to the tree. Folks that is the example we are given, that is the footsteps we follow in, let’s live it. Let’s make our lives the proof of his love on earth! I know it isn’t always easy, truly forgiving is hard, it means accepting being wronged and not expecting retribution for those hurts. We can’t hold onto the anger we feel though it doesn’t really hurt those who have hurt us, most times they never even realize we are upset, but it eats at us like a cancer, slowly poisoning our life, our light, stealing our joy and our freedom. We become slaves to the anger and hate unforgiveness causes and eventually we begin to blame God for it, asking Him why we were wronged and hurt.
Please brothers and sisters don’t let it get that far! Don’t let it steal you zeal for the Lord, don’t let it destroy your testimony, your love. Cause you see when you refuse to forgive and allow it to take root in your that poison it shows, others see it and they know, they see the darkness creeping about you. They see it and it begins to dim the light in you of Christ, the light that points them towards Jesus and salvation, the light of love. You’re not giving love to everyone, you are withholding it from one, yet that one person’s wrong towards you isn’t as bad as your wrong towards your own Savior.
I know what I am talking about here, see I have had to do some hard forgiving. Someone close to me betrayed me and hurt me deeply, not just me, but my son as well. Now for a while I just stayed mad over it, actually mad is an understatement, furious, I was furious, I wanted them to pay dearly. I would pray about my anger each night though, and ask God to soften my heart and make it more like His precious Son’s so that I could forgive them. For a very long time I wrestled with it, stubbornly taking it back up each morning like putting on a favorite pair of jeans. But it was hurting me, hurting my walk with the Lord, hurting my ability to serve God. The one day in my daily reading I came across the passage above from Matthew about the unforgiving servant and man did it hit me. Like a ton of bricks, I hit my knees right then and begged God to forgive me. Forgive me for being stubborn, disobedient, a hypocrite. I forgave them right then, I just poured all that anger and hurt out, cast it from me and tasted freedom a fresh. Tasted peace, love, life again. Once I let God work on my heart I realized that my sins against God and others were just as bad and that if I couldn’t forgive then I could accept forgiveness. I didn’t deserve it and by saying that they didn’t either and not giving it to those who wronged me I was refusing to accept my own forgiveness. It was holding me down, holding me back. Keeping me from being able to share about the forgiveness of Christ because I no longer felt I had it. Praise the Lord, that he set me free of my own prison, one of my own making. Don’t be like me, don’t waste your precious time carrying around a heavy burden of unforgiveness.
Let’s forgive freely, love like there’s no tomorrow and let’s light the world by allowing Christ’s light to pour forth from us! We are forgiven! Free! Let’s share that freedom, that forgiveness, and Jesus our precious Lord and Savior, the only one it can come from with the world. Forgive them!