In this world, we have heard it said from psychologists, counselors, media testimonies, and other forms of social awareness agendas that we must forgive so we can be happy. Forgiving people who deliver blows of pain must be forgiven by us so we will have peace. The world says we need to release all hurts and offences from our thinking so that we don’t give the other person space in our minds any longer. The experts of the world say that forgiveness is for self. As I read our next passage of what Jesus says, forgiveness is not about self. It is about God who so loved the world! (John 3:16)
God sent His son as a sacrifice for our sin, all sin, so that the ledger of sin could be stamped “paid in full” forever for each one of us. Jesus took all sin upon himself so that we could be set free from our debt of sin. Then in His supreme mercy, mixed with great grace, He forgives all who come to Him and asks for His forgiveness. Here is something to think about which separates world thinking from God’s thinking. He didn’t forgive us so He could feel better about Himself! He forgave us to save us and give us life!
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16
Jesus forgives us because of His extreme, relentless, unconditional love for us! He forgives us because we needed it and He was the only one who could give that kind of forgiveness to be totally free to live with Him forever. His goal of forgiveness is to restore a right, intimate loving relationship that is pure, holy, and full of grace.
We must not forget what His forgiveness cost Him. Jesus went to and through hell and back for us. He suffered rejection from the religious elite who sold him out to the Romans. The Romans delivered beatings with mocking along with whippings sharp metal spikes on the end of leather straps until his body was unrecognizable. If that was not enough, He willingly laid down His life for ours on rough, wooden logs. Large nails pierced his hands and feet in precise places so He could hang on this cross until He died. As He died the mocking continued. He watched the weeping of his family and friends from the cross.
Jesus’ response? “Forgive them for they know not what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34)
Jesus forgives all who come to Him and believe. “Believe and you will be saved…” (Romans 10:9). He didn’t suffer on the cross for our sin so he would “feel better” about Himself. He defeated death, rose again, and even appeared to His disciples later so that His forgiveness was declared complete and whole. All sin, our sin, paid in full. Peter who denied him—forgiven. Thomas doubted—forgiven. All who came to Jesus in faith believing—forgiven. We who come believing—forgiven.
Friends, why is God leading us to these thoughts this morning? I’m asking the same question. We can so easily be confused by what the world says. We must cling to what Jesus says about forgiveness. His story of forgiveness goes deeper than we first thought. His forgiveness is complete when we forgive those who owe us a debt of hurt and pain. Forgive them because in doing so the full circle of our forgiveness is complete in Jesus, our Savior and Lord, who forgave us.
Forgiveness then, is not to make me happy, it is to make me holy. Ah, we “get it”!
Matthew—God’s Law Fulfilled
Matthew 18:21-35, NLT
Parable of the Unforgiving Debtor
21 Then Peter came to him and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?”
22 “No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven!
23 “Therefore, the Kingdom of Heaven can be compared to a king who decided to bring his accounts up to date with servants who had borrowed money from him. 24 In the process, one of his debtors was brought in who owed him millions of dollars. 25 He couldn’t pay, so his master ordered that he be sold—along with his wife, his children, and everything he owned—to pay the debt.
26 “But the man fell down before his master and begged him, ‘Please, be patient with me, and I will pay it all.’ 27 Then his master was filled with pity for him, and he released him and forgave his debt.
28 “But when the man left the king, he went to a fellow servant who owed him a few thousand dollars. He grabbed him by the throat and demanded instant payment.
29 “His fellow servant fell down before him and begged for a little more time. ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it,’ he pleaded. 30 But his creditor wouldn’t wait. He had the man arrested and put in prison until the debt could be paid in full.
31 “When some of the other servants saw this, they were very upset. They went to the king and told him everything that had happened. 32 Then the king called in the man he had forgiven and said, ‘You evil servant! I forgave you that tremendous debt because you pleaded with me. 33 Shouldn’t you have mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you?’ 34 Then the angry king sent the man to prison to be tortured until he had paid his entire debt.
35 “That’s what my heavenly Father will do to you if you refuse to forgive your brothers and sisters from your heart.”
Abba, Father in Heaven,
May I never forget the “millions” of sins you forgiven me as I forgive those who hurt me. Help me to forgive and forget the list of hurts, offenses, mocking and criticisms of others. There is nothing anyone can do to me that has not already been done to You. Oh Lord, forgive now for proudly thinking that I am above forgiveness of others who hurt me. Help us all to love like you love us by forgiving completely with the goal of right and pure relationships with you and others. THIS is what makes you smile, isn’t it?
In Jesus Name, Amen