Matthew 18:35 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 gives the account of a servant who was forgiven a great debt by his lord, only to later persecute a fellow servant for a relatively small debt.
How often our story is like that of the wicked servant. We will never comprehend the depth of grace that Christ has extended to us, and yet our response is to harbor un-forgiveness in our hearts.
For mankind, forgiveness is not a natural response. In many cases it may be the most difficult choice we make. We struggle with the ability to forgive because we will never fully understand what forgiveness is.
Forgiveness is not verbal. Merely uttering the words, “I forgive you”, changes nothing. In the verse above we see that forgiveness is an issue of the heart. While it may be important for us to express the words, those words may be uttered from a heart filled with bitterness and hatred.
When someone has wronged us our hearts quickly begin to plot revenge. We can know that we have genuinely forgiven someone when our heart lets go of our right to revenge. One author put it this way, “We know we have forgiven when the name of the one who has wronged us is safe in our mouth.”
Forgiveness may be reflected in our actions by refusing to casting the first stone. Even more so, forgiveness is refusing to pick the stone up in the first place because our heart has no desire for revenge.
The only One Who has the right to extract judgment or seek revenge for our sin is God. Yet He chooses to separate us from our sin as far as the east is from the west and He remembers that sin no more. (Proverbs 103:12)
We are incredibly blessed in that. But with any blessing comes with a great responsibility. God’s instructions to us are that we are to do the same with those who have sinned against us – we are commanded to forgive.
Is what we are hiding in our hearts today worth the blessings we are missing? In the end we are only hurting ourselves. Refusing to forgive carries a heavy price tag that brings with it great loss.
Forgiving rarely changes the person who wronged us – but it will always change us!
Where do you need to start today? Who do you need to truly forgive?