Forgiveness…

“So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.” (Matthew 18:35, KJV)

Oddly enough, forgiveness is something all Christians struggle with. If we are honest we can admit that this is true. And it is also true, that some sins have more of an impact than others.

If you steal $5 from my desk, shame on you. If you burn my house down, well that is another matter, isn’t it

Many try to interpret parables by examining every word, often looking for meanings that aren’t really there. Remember, the parables of Jesus Christ are earthly examples of a Heavenly principle. And in this case, the principle of the parable is simple: Forgiveness. So let’s be careful not to read into it more than is there.

In this case the principle characters are two men and how they react to each other. One owed his King 200 talents. At the time, the average day’s wage way about a penny and it would take the average person about 20 years to earn one talent. When the King began to collect his debts, he called him to account. In Texas we say, “He told him how the cow ate the cabbage.” (You have to be from Texas). He pleaded with the King to give him time to pay back the debt. Moved with compassion, the King forgave the debt.

Then, that man went out looking for those who owed him money and found one who owed him 200 pennies. He demanded the money from the man, and when the man could not pay, he took him to court and had him case into the debtors prison.

When the King found out, he chided the man for not showing the same forgiveness and compassion the King showed. So the King had him case into debtors prison also.

Then Jesus said, “So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.”

Forgiveness is not easy. If it was, everyone would do it. Forgiveness in many cases is impossible. The man whose wife was murdered, the wife whose child was molested. The husband who committed adultery. These are all examples of sins against us that are impossible to forgive. Impossible within ourselves, but not impossible with help from God.

If one has really seen the depth of his sin and depravity, if he has truly been driven to the depth of despair over the awfulness of his sins, and truly received forgiveness from God, that man is a changed person. Samuel, when anointing Saul as the first King over Israel said to Saul:

“And the Spirit of the Lord will come upon thee, and thou shalt prophesy with them, and shalt be turned into another man.” (1 Samuel 10:6, KJV)

It is glorious to see the Holy Spirit transform lives. I have seen men so violent, having been convicted of multiple crimes and spending years in prisons, change into gentle, loving men – giant teddy bears if you will – all by the power of the Holy Spirit.

When a person truly acknowledges and confesses his or her sins before God and asks for forgiveness, like the King in the parable, the King forgives all their debt of sin. I like that! All the guilt and shame, forgiven! Wow!

That person and that person alone can truly forgive another. But when you see so often, the person who has been forgiven a load of sin and guilt speak of being unwilling to forgive others you wonder, were they really being honest when they were before the King? Or where they just wanting to get out of the consequences of their sin?

This is what Jesus meant when He said, “So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.”

Now do Christians struggle with forgiveness? Unfortunately, yes. I am guilty as charged. You would think it wouldn’t be true. But alas, it is. Listen to what Paul wrote to Christians:

“And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” (Ephesians 4:32, KJV)

“Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.” (Colossians 3:13, KJV)

Why does Paul write words like this to Christians? Because we so often are unwilling to forgive. Paul said of love:

“It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. (1 Corinthians 13:5, NIV)

Oh how men like to keep a record of wrongs done to them. But when Jesus forgave us, he tore up the records of wrongs against you and I.

“Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.” (Colossians 3:13, KJV)

Only those who have truly experienced forgiveness can forgive others. And that is the point of this parable. Think about it…

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