Matthew 18.21 to 35 - Then Peter approached him, and said, Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Will it be up to seven times? Jesus said to him, I do not tell you up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven times. This is why the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to give an account to his servants. When he began to count, they brought him one who owed ten thousand talents. Since he had no money to pay, his master ordered that he, his wife, his children, and all he had, be sold, and that the debt should be paid. And the servant fell on the ground, and worshiped him, and said, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay you all things. Moved with compassion, the master of this servant let him go, and forgave him the debt. After he had gone out, this servant met one of his companions who owed him a hundred pence. He seized him and strangled him, saying, Pay what you owe me. His companion, throwing himself on the ground, begged him, saying: Have patience with me, and I will pay you. But the other did not want to, and he went to throw him in prison, until he had paid what he owed. His companions, having seen what had happened, were deeply saddened, and went to tell their master all that had happened. Then the master sent for that servant, and said to him, "Wicked servant, I forgave you all your debt, because you pleaded with me; did not you also have to have pity on your companion, as I had pity on you? And his master, angry, gave him up to the executioners until he had paid all he owed. This is how my heavenly Father will treat you, if each one of you does not forgive his brother with all his heart.
Let's spend some time around the subject of God's forgiveness. It is a very important subject that guides our eternal destiny because it is because of forgiveness, that God gives us in his grace, that we are saved.
In response to this question from Peter in our text, Jesus will tell a parable to illustrate this grace that God gives us. A king decides to get his money back. One of his servants owes him an astronomical sum which he is obviously unable to pay. At that time, not only were we going to jail for that but everything that belonged to the debtor was sold, including wife and children.
How did he get into this situation? The parable does not specify it. Perhaps he was addicted to the games, or he lived well beyond his means, or his wife was very expensive.Perhaps his debt was much more noble, it is the medical expenses of his children who created this hole. But whether he is responsible or victim of circumstances, the situation is the same: he is in debt to the neck and he is in bad shape! For us the situation is the same, we have a huge debt to God and this debt is called sin! Because all have sinned and are deprived of the glorious presence of God (Romans 3:23) tells us the Bible. We all need to implore and receive God's forgiveness and this forgiveness is possible because Jesus paid off the debt by dying on the cross. By offering his life for us, He has canceled the debt of sin and we can experience the full forgiveness of the Lord for our sins.
Matthew 18.27 - Touched with compassion, this servant's master canceled his debt and let him go.
Let's go back to our story. The indebted servant, aware of the situation, asks thanks to the king by throwing himself at his feet and imploring his patience. Let's see what our verse says, "The master canceled the debt of the servant." His huge debt is canceled, he owes nothing, he is free, he can find his family and live, it is the king who will take up the problem. Here is one of the first principles of God's forgiveness: forgive the debt! That's exactly what Jesus did. He absorbed the evil of all humanity at the cross, all the suffering that sin required, and He sent back good, love, grace and forgiveness.
Romans 5.8 - But God clearly shows and proves His own love for us, by the fact that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
The second principle of God's forgiveness is to take the first step! This is what our text explains; the man turned his back on God, he left by slamming the door and offended Him terribly. However, through the work of Jesus, God gives men the opportunity to return to Him, He opens the door to a solution by taking the first step. So, God does not become dependent on the repentance of human beings, He has already done what he failed before even repentance of it. He does not remain prostrate in a corner of the sky by allowing himself to be victimized, but He is, as He has been from all eternity, completely free from all resentment.
Jeremiah 31.34 - And each man will no longer teach his neighbor and his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest,” says the Lord. “For I will forgive their wickedness, and I will no longer remember their sin.”
We must realize that God does not have "memory lapses", He does not forget anything.What does this text mean then? The version of the Sower translates it well by: "I will not take anymore account of their sin". When the Lord says that He will "forget" our faults, He declares that He will not take it into account anymore, they will no longer weigh in the scales, He will never speak of it again.
But our analysis of this parable would not be complete if we only dwell on God's forgiveness. We must also see his involvement in our lives since we are called to forgive others in the same way that we have been forgiven. If we have fully grasped the forgiveness that God has given us, we will easily understand the need we have to forgive those who have made us suffer. Granting this forgiveness is not primarily for these people, but for myself. When I make the decision to forgive, it is to me that I do good, I lead my own soul on the path of healing. And even if it seems impossible, the forgiveness I got from God will make it possible.
When someone acts badly against us, in word or deed, a debt of suffering is created. Sin always claims suffering and when I decide to forgive, I take this suffering to my account.This means that I renounce all desire for revenge, restitution, and claim; instead of sending this evil back to the person who hurt me, I return it for good. We are called to forgive as Jesus did (Colossians 3:13) and to forgive is it. This forgiveness is divine but God promises us that He can make it possible in us. It's all about choice: what will I decide on the injury? If we decide to remain in rancor, the suffering of sin will continue to gnaw at us, but if we decide to forgive, which is much stronger than just to forget, we activate a power of liberation and healing, liberation of the guilty (John 20.23) and healing for the wounded. This healing will begin as soon as you surrender the debt, that you will let go of things by asking God's help.
Then it is important to forgive before there is repentance. I can already hear your reaction: "But am I hurt and I have to take the first step? ". This is necessary for two reasons. The first, as I said above, the injury causes suffering. The first victim of this suffering is me; it's like a cancer in my soul that gnaws at me and destroys all the good cells of love. As I take the first step towards forgiveness, I stop the progression of this "tumor" and allow the Holy Spirit to regenerate the cells of love of my soul. This does not mean that I automatically renew the relationship with the one who hurt me, there are relationships that are broken forever. With some people, a peaceful relationship will never be possible but, having this attitude, I am free and I can live in harmony. The second is that I do not make myself dependent on the repentance of the other. If I sit in my corner, prostrate saying, "As long as he or she will not come to ask for forgiveness, I ..." I'm locking myself up in a prison that will eventually destroy me completely. In the image of God, let us not be slaves or more of the choice of others if they do not manage to question or humiliate themselves, it becomes their problem, plus ours.
Finally, let's talk about forgetting. For having misunderstood the principle of forgetting the offense, many people are tormented in their soul because they can not forget the evil that made them suffer. Maybe we have lived terrible things in our past, we forgave but we do not forget ... It's normal! What the Holy Spirit wants to do is heal us from the "suffering of remembrance". After this healing work, we are able to face these painful events without suffering. We are able to see the people involved in this suffering without feelings of anger, fear or hatred. We no longer live and we no longer react to this experience, we are free because this past no longer belongs to us. This step is very important for rebuilding relationships, especially in the couple. So in order to live this release, I must make a firm personal decision to ignore the blame committed against me. When a painful memory comes back into my memory, I give it to the Lord asking that He heal me, and He will do it. He himself said: I stand with those who are broken-hearted (Psalm 34:18).
Genesis 50.20 and 21 - As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present outcome, that many people would be kept alive. So now, do not be afraid; I will provide for you and support you and your little ones.” So he comforted them [giving them encouragement and hope] and spoke [with kindness] to their hearts.
Probably you have already heard about the story of Joseph, Jacob's son (if not, I encourage you to read it in Genesis). This story could be the subject of a movie because it contains all the ingredients of a good scenario (it is already in fact). There is intrigue, suspense, drama and even a happy ending. It is a vivid demonstration of the verse that says: All things work together for the good of those who love God! (Romans 8:28) Joseph's brothers, driven by jealousy, did him a lot of pain. In first intention they wanted to kill him, finally they will sell him as a slave to get rid of him. I would like to contrast Joseph's conscience with that of his brothers. After all these years, they were not yet free from their bad deeds. Fear was gnawing at them, and they were pursued by anguish. This is what happens to us when we are not delivered from guilt. Probably they regretted their actions but they had not gone through a real repentance, one that definitely releases.Their faults were still there before them, they feared the consequences and could not "forgive" themselves. Joseph, the "victim", was fully delivered from the pain. He saw in all these events the hand of God; no hatred, no bitterness had penetrated his heart, and it was he who became the comforter of his "executioners." What a beautiful example of forgiveness, do not you think?
So, even today, you who read these lines, you can do this step, just by talking to God: Lord, today even, I decide to forgive ......... .. (quote the person who has you wounded) and I ask you to heal me from my wound and free me from all bitterness and hatred. Father, today, I want to be free. Come to my help, I ask you in the name of Jesus Christ.
To accept God's forgiveness and to live the liberation of non-forgiveness is one thing, to forgive oneself and to be free from guilt is the subject of the next chapter.