We far too often associate forgiveness with simply wiping the slate clean. We treat forgiveness as though whatever is being forgiven, the offense or debt, simply disappears. In most situations, this simply is not the case. A wonderful example is the Parable of the Wicked (or Unforgiving) Servant (Matthew 18:21-35):
21Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?
22Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.
23Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants.
24And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents.
25But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made.
26The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.
27Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt.
28But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellowservants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest.
29And his fellowservant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.
30And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt.
31So when his fellowservants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done.
32Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me:
33Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee?
34And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him.
35So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.
So, what happened to that unbelievable sum of debt? Forgiven, yes. But it did not simply disappear. That cost was borne by the king, the one doing the forgiving. It came “out of his pocket.”
We can’t both forgive and begrudge!
When we forgive a debt or trespass, we can’t continue to begrudge the cost to us. That negates the forgiveness. Just think about how often we see others doing exactly that. It’s like the unpaid but forgiven debt that remains (forever seemingly) on a credit report. Perhaps each of us have been guilty of this “begrudging” ourselves. When we forgive, we MUST be fully willing to assume the cost of the debt or trespass.
What it cost God to forgive our debts (sins).
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. – John 3:16
It is God (Father and Son) who bear the cost of forgiveness of our sins. THAT my friends, is sacrifice! Pause. Ponder the enormous cost of that forgiveness. They did this in love and do not begrudge the cost.
So… which will we be? Will we accept forgiveness and still be unforgiving like the wicked servant? Will we begrudge the cost to us of true forgiveness.
Will we actually do what we pray:
“Forgive us our debts (sins or trespasses) as we forgive our debtors (those who sin or trespass against us.”
It can seem so complicated, so difficult. But I have found that this is generally not the case when we put our trust in God.
It is simply a choice.
Alive in The Word
My thanks to Pastor Adam for his message on this all important topic.