Christians should possess a deep understanding of what the Bible says about forgiveness, as the Bible is filled with stories and lessons about this subject. When the Word of God mentions forgiveness, it means a dismissal or release of something. For example, when Jesus forgave us, He released us from the bondage of sin. Jesus also released us sinners from God’s wrath and punishment. The charges against us are now completely and totally dismissed. Because God forgave or released us from our sins in Christ, Christians are no longer condemned (There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. Romans 8:1). In Jesus Christ, we gain redemption and forgiveness of our sins (In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: Colossians 1:14), and because of this, we must practice forgiveness towards people who have wronged us.
Since God forgave our sins in Christ, it is important that we become tenderhearted and forgive our fellow brothers and sisters (For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Ephesians 4:32). There are some individuals who have a hard time forgiving their neighbors. They think that forgiveness is a sign of weakness. Their pride consumes them and forgiveness feels like defeat. However, this is an utter lie from the enemy. Forgiveness is an act of will and it has no connection to weakness. It takes strength, courage, and wisdom to forgive. Forgiving someone who has committed sin against you is not only bold, but also pleasing to the Lord.
We do not deserve the forgiveness of God. God granted us forgiveness, not because we deserve to be forgiven, but as a deliberate act of grace, mercy, and love. God decided not to hold something against us, which was our sinful nature. Therefore, we must also learn how to forgive or not hold something against our neighbor. As Christians, we need to “bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you” (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). Despite what anyone has done to you, forgiveness is essential. Knowing how to forgive someone is one of the true marks of being a Christian.
It is important to remember that forgiveness is an essential part of our salvation. God is Holy and He does not delight in evil or wickedness. Jesus forgave us and all the sins, iniquities, transgressions, and trespasses that we have committed are now erased. It is like our debts to God have been eliminated. That being said, we must also learn how to forgive our debtors.
The Parable of the Unforgiving Debtor
In Matthew 18:21-35, Peter asked Jesus how often they should forgive someone who has sinned against them. Peter suggested seven times and he feels magnanimous about it, but the Lord is quick to exclaim, “No, not seven times, but seventy times seven!” When Jesus says seventy times seven, it doesn’t mean that you literally need to forgive someone 490 times; Jesus is implying that you forgive someone innumerable times. He then told the Parable of the Unforgiving Debtor.
The parable involves a king and two servants. The king decided to bring his accounts up to date with those servants who borrowed money from him. One of his debtors owed him a million dollars, but the man could not pay such an amount, so the king suggested that he be sold, along with his wife and children. The man fell down before his master and begged him. The king took pity on him and “released” him from his debts. When the king left, the servant went to his fellow servant, who owed him a thousand dollars. He grabbed the other servant by the throat and demanded immediate payment. The other servant begged him, but the creditor couldn’t wait, and had the man arrested. The other servants saw what he did and told the king what had happened. The king called the man and said, “You evil servant! I forgave you that tremendous debt because you pleaded with me. Shouldn’t you have mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you?” Then the angry king sent the man to prison to be tortured until he had paid his entire debt. Jesus then told the disciples, which is also applicable to us, that such a reaction is what the Father will have if we refuse to forgive our brothers and sisters from our hearts.
It is crystal clear that the Bible tells us that we need to forgive those who sin against us. As Christians, it is vital that we keep no record of wrongs. We demonstrate anger, bitterness, and resentment if we refuse to forgive other people. Forgiveness can be very challenging, but we must obey what God has said. Forgiving someone who has sinned against you is one of the hardest things that God requires of us Christians, but if we love Jesus, then we need to keep His commandments (If ye love me, keep my commandments. John 14:15). Forgiveness is a clear command from God. If you are having a hard time forgiving someone, think of Jesus as your ultimate example. We don’t deserve His forgiveness, yet He gave up His life for us. All of us were headed straight to hell, yet God chose to forgive. So, how can we not?