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Forgive It or Forget It! (Part 1 of 3)

But if you do not forgive men, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions. (Matt 6:15)

So here is a concept that I am not sure we embrace. According to Jesus we are forgiven in the same measure that we forgive. Definitely not what I wanted to hear. My concept of forgiveness is that God separates all my sins from me as far as the East is from the West, that He forgets my transgressions, and treats me as if I had never thought a single evil thought.

Let’s take a look at one of Jesus’ parables and see if we can get some help. In Matthew 18, which by the way is entirely about forgiveness and restoration of relationships, Jesus tells a parable.

Then Peter came and said to Him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?”

Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven. For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a certain king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. And when he had begun to settle them, there was brought to him one who owed him ten thousand talents. But since he did not have the means to repay, his lord commanded him to be sold, along with his wife and children and all that he had, and repayment to be made. The slave therefore falling down, prostrated himself before him, saying,

‘Have patience with me, and I will repay you everything.’ And the lord of that slave felt compassion and released him and forgave him the debt.

But that slave went out and found one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred denarii; and he seized him and began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay back what you owe.’

So his fellow slave fell down and began to entreat him, saying, ‘Have patience with me and I will repay you.’

He was unwilling however, but went and threw him in prison until he should pay back what was owed.

So when his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were deeply grieved and came and reported to their lord all that had happened. Then summoning him, his lord said to him, ‘You wicked slave, I forgave you all that debt because you entreated me. Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow slave, even as I had mercy on you?’ And his lord, moved with anger, handed him over to the torturers until he should repay all that was owed him.

So shall My heavenly Father also do to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart.” (Matthew 18:21-35 NASB)

This is such a powerful story and demonstrates exactly what Jesus is teaching here. Your ability to forgive demonstrates your understanding of what you have received. When you receive the full pardon for all your trespasses against the Father, and yet do not forgive that which has been done against you, it demonstrates your lack of comprehension of what has been done for you. It actually goes to demonstrate that you have not actually received that forgiveness.

Remember that the forgiveness of God is a free gift, which must be received by faith. Through this faith we see just how completely we need forgiveness, and how completely inadequate our attempts to pay or cover our sin have been. When we demonstrate hatred for others and a vengeful spirit, we demonstrate that we have not received that new nature, we are not born of the Spirit that can set us free. You cannot live in mercy and justice at the same time. When we have received mercy, and can’t give mercy, we walk back into the realm of justice, and undermine the mercy we have received.

Think of it this way. There are only 2 covenants that we can live in. We cannot expect to live in the New Covenant in the mercy of God, and not extend that forgiveness to those around us. [Tweet This]

Come back tomorrow when I answer the question: Can a Christian harbor Unforgiveness?

Thanks for stopping in today.

Come back soon,

Sign photo credit: quantumlars via photo pin cc

Chalk Board photo credit: LivingOS via photo pin cc

0 thoughts on “Forgive It or Forget It! (Part 1 of 3)

  1. Caddo Veil

    Great word as always, brother Ben. Here's my question: what should I do when there's been a horrible misunderstanding with someone (way in the past, not recently), and I've forgiven him but he doesn't wish to forgive me? We both feel we were the "victims"--and we're both Christians. You can't Make someone forgive you, anymore than you can make someone love you. Periodically, I see this person in the grocery store--and it's really uncomfortable, as we both seek to avoid the other. Thanks, and God bless you--love, sis Caddo

  2. Ben Nelson

    Oh Caddo, You are so on my wave length. In tomorrow's post i have a photo from the grocery store, and the situation you describe is what i suggest. I do tackle that a little bit in part 2 tomorrow, but the fact is there is no formula that works more than once in a while.

    We can not make anyone else forgive us -and we are not built in a way that we are able to forget - That is a God thing, not a human thing (that will probably get me in trouble since I listened to a preacher tell me just this morning that I must forget or I have not forgiven, and that is just not true.

    What i have to do is not hold it against them any longer - hard enough, but it is possible.

    Whether complete reconciliation happens will depend on the other party, but the Word tells us that God reconciled the world to himself... even though they don't accept in all cases - His part is done.

    Our goal needs to be to "Let it go" and be open to what God will do in the others heart.

    And DON"T BE A VICTIM. Jesus was crusified by who - Romans, Jews, Us, His Father, you pick, but in the end He took the role of a victim, He said, I lay my life down.

    don't know if this helps - perhaps i will need a part 4 - let me know after you read parts 2 and 3

    Love you kiddo

  3. Caddo Veil

    Thank you, Ben, for your thoughtful answer (and I loved the "kiddo" part, it lifted my spirits--made me feel immediately "Young"!)--and I'll be reading more from you, of course. Sometimes I'm too conscientious for my own good--I SO want to do what pleases God, the "right" thing. But there are times--and God has told me this Himself, repeatedly--when I just muck things up worse, with my good intentions. My situation may be one of those, "let it go", "leave the Past in the past" things--but I don't want to wish (when it's too late) that I'd done more. It's tough, not having the "mind of God", eh? See ya later! love sis Caddo (aka kiddo)


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