Forgive in Scripture, in the Greek, means: to send away whole.
Plainly, sin and offenses leave “holes” in our lives; so to forgive, is to make each place healed….as though there was no hurt. (It does not take away the knowledge of the offense….but the wound is healed.)
Matthew 18:21 “Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?”
Jesus had been talking about people offending children, and other people. As He said, “it must needs be that offenses come; but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh!” (Mat. 18:7)
In that light, Peter asks the Lord, how many times should he forgive an offending brother?
Jesus then sets down a clear statement about how we are to forgive.
Matthew 18:22 “Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, until seventy times seven.”
I don’t know what Peter thought of this number…..but I would have thought, “How am I to keep count? I’ll never remember what number I am at.”
But that was the point: we are to forgive, and to forgive, and to forgive, without trying to count to a certain point, because God forgives us and our offenses to Him, without measure.
Matthew 18:23 “Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants.”
This begins a parable which shows the willingness of God the Father to forgive us.
And that He requires that same willingness within us, for those who sin against us.
Matthew 18:24. “And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents.”
Here is a huge debt! This is a picture of the debt of sin we all have. (Romans 3:23)
Matthew 18:25 “But for as much as he had not to pay, (and none of us could pay the debt we owe to God), he commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made.”
What was to be done?
To get as much from the investment in this man, this king would have to sell the man and his family, into slavery; and confiscate all that he had, to be auctioned off.
Matthew 18:26-27 “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.”
Sometimes we think that we can earn God’s approval by doing better, by becoming religious, or by good works.
But the only means whereby our debts are removed before God…..is His forgiveness.
But God, through Christ Jesus, does forgive our debts.
And how should we act, because He has forgiven us?
We should forgive those that trespass against us.
If you read the rest of the parable, you will find this forgiven servant, went out from where he might have been put in slavery…….and finding a fellow servant which owed him money (a very small amount compared to the amount he was forgiven).
What did he do to this fellow servant?
Matthew 18:28-30 “…he laid hands on him, and took by the throat, saying, Pay me what thou owest.
And his fellow servant….besought him, saying, Have patience with me and I will pay thee all.
And he would not: but…cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt.”
What unkindness, and ingratitude for the forgiveness he had received!
Did he think he merited to be forgiven? And others did not?
The fellow servant’s debt was small in comparison to his, and he did not need that money to repay his own debt…..Should he not have forgiven freely, as he was freely forgiven?
(Yet how many times we act the same way to our brothers and sisters in Christ. We get angry and say things. We ask forgiveness and it comes…..but when others say something about us? Do we forgive?)
But the Lord found out what he had done. It saddened Him to hear.
Calling the servant back, he required at his hand the same treatment he gave his fellow servant.
Why?……because he had not “compassion on thy fellow servant, even as I had pity on thee.”(Matthew 18:33)
Jesus was stressing to His disciples the importance of not offending each other…..and if the offense has come:
to forgive, as our Father in Heaven has forgiven us.
Much blessing is given those to do forgive (hard as it seems at the time).
And much sadness and depression comes to those who do not.
Forgive, as I forgive you, Jesus said. And joy and blessing will follow.