Forgiveness

If ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you” – Matthew 6:14

In order to give we have to forgive.  This is why Jesus stresses the importance of forgiving one another and of letting go of anger, resentment and hurt.  When we focus on what someone has done to us it takes away our attention from God.  God forgave the Israelites numerous times when they repented and cried out to Him just as He forgave the people in Nineveh.  Jesus forgave Peter for denying Him, the people for crucifying Him and Saul for persecuting Him.  Jesus instructs us to forgive someone seventy times seven and warns, “So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.” (Matthew 18:22, 35)

Joseph forgave his brothers who tried to kill him.  God forgave David who committed adultery and murder.  He forgave Jonah who disobeyed Him.  The prodigal son was forgiven.  In the Our Father prayer Jesus taught us, it says, “And forgive us our debts As we forgive our debtors” (Matthew 6:12)

How can we ask for forgiveness when we ourselves don’t give it?  We should follow Jesus’ example.  He preached forgiveness, practiced it and died for it.  We have to show mercy to those who hurt us just as Jesus showed mercy to those who had Him crucified.  “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34)

In the parable about the king and his servant Jesus teaches us about forgiving and being forgiven.  The servant owed the king ten thousand talents and because he couldn’t pay, he and his family would have been sold but, because he begged, the king gave him time to pay it.  The king relented out of compassion.  This same servant who was shown mercy did not show the same to another servant who owed him a thousand pence.  The man begged him but he was unyielding in spirit and had him thrown in jail.  When the king found out, the unforgiving servant was deservedly punished.

This parable shows us how the servant who was forgiven for much more could not find it in his heart to forgive someone else for much less.  God forgave us for our sins—sins that had separated us from Him and which were forgiven when Jesus died on the cross.  God showed compassion toward people like those in Nineveh or the Israelites who rebelled against Him by worshipping other gods, why can’t we forgive a past hurt?  Holding on to anger and resentment sometimes hurts us more than it hurts the other person.  The unforgiving servant ended up worse than the other. (Matthew 18:34)

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