God desires His children to live forgiven and to extend forgiveness. This counter-cultural trait is liberating for the believer, and it is one of our most compelling witnesses to a watching world.
The miraculous reality of forgiveness is taught from Genesis to Revelation. In fact, you could say the whole Bible is about this glorious theme.
Forgiveness is both a path on which revival enters and a fruit which revival brings.
In Matthew 18, Jesus tells the familiar story of a king who forgave his servant, and the servant who was unwilling to forgive his debtor. He told us this to prepare us, because everyone will be hurt by others. And there are multiple forgiveness truths in this story that shout to us—truths we must learn.
We owe an unpayable debt to God (Matthew 18:23-24).
The servant owed 10,000 talents to the king. A single talent was 15 YEARS’ wages! This means 150,000 years’ wages was owed, illustrating our massive debt because of our sins against the God who made us.
Payment must be made (v. 24).
God “will by no means clear the guilty” (Numbers 14:18 NASB), so somehow this debt must be paid. We know, of course, that our debt was paid for us through Jesus Christ on the cross.
God graciously forgives our debt when we come to Him in faith (v. 27).
The king’s mercy forgave the servant. God’s mercy, and the work of the cross, make full forgiveness possible for us.
People will sin against us and hurt us, but this is minor compared to our sin against God (v. 28).
The servant’s debtor owed him one hundred denarii (100 days’ wages). The servant had owed the king a debt of 10,000 talents (150,000 years’ wages). No comparison.
We are to forgive as we have been forgiven (v. 28).
This is logical and redemptive. God has done this for us; as His sons and daughters, we must do it for others. “[Forgive] each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you,” Paul says in Ephesians 4:32.
We CAN forgive anyone. God could not ask us to do something we cannot do (v. 35).
Forgiveness is commanded throughout Scripture. If God asks us to forgive, we can forgive, made possible with His help. There is never a time when we should not forgive. Never.
Forgiveness is not an act of the emotions, but an act of the will made possible by the grace of God (v. 35).
The servant could have chosen, as an act of his will and understanding the grace he had been given, to release his debtor. You must forgive “from your heart” (v. 35). To say that you cannot is to deny the grace and power of God.
It is never that we cannot, but that we will not. It is our choice, to illustrate to others the matchless forgiveness of God. To forgive is to live for a higher purpose.
If we do not forgive, we will find ourselves in unending torment (v. 34).
When we don’t forgive, we may think we are hurting the offender (by seeking revenge). In reality, we are the ones in prison. One man said that bitterness is drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.
Unforgiveness is one of the most common and most debilitating sins possible. It puts people in incredible bondage. There are thousands of people who have allowed their entire lives to be defined by bitterness.
Hebrews 12:15 says it always springs up, always causes trouble, and always defiles many. Bitterness and its effects can be passed to multiple generations, because bitter people always hurt other people.
Is there any unforgiveness in your heart toward ANYONE? Take a long look at the cross … and forgive!
(If you would like help learning to forgive, purchase Pastor Bill’s small booklet that God has graciously used to help thousands. Healing the Harbored Hurts of Your Heart can be found at www.BillElliff.org/store.)