Be Forgiving

KEY VERSE: “Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive and ye shall be forgiven.” —Luke 6:37

SELECTED SCRIPTURE: Matthew 18:21-35

ONE cannot read this moving story in Matthew without having emotion aroused to a keen sense of the injustice done by a servant on the one hand, and a compelling desire to applaud his master, a king, who was so moved by compassion himself and angered at the lack of it in his subject. And such feelings are indeed proper, for it is stated that this is a parable of the kingdom of heaven, and the king is none other than Jehovah God.

This parable was in response to Peter’s inquiry as to how many times he should forgive his brother. Jesus’ instruction was that he should be willing to forgive seventy times seven. This is not only a reflection of our Master’s own attitude in extending forgiveness, but also that of the Heavenly Father as well. The parable conveys the lesson that God should be looked to in these matters as an example of character to which our thoughts actions should be conformed.

In the beginning, divine justice called for the condemnation of the human race to death because of sin. Just as with the servant in the parable, mankind owed to God a very large debt. But our compassionate Heavenly Father provided a way of escape which Jesus expressed in these words: “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

How effectively this was portrayed by the servant of the parable, whose situation was hopeless unless the king extended mercy to him. He pleaded for the exercise of patience, promising that in time he would make full payment. The king was “moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt.”—vs. 27

It is the love of God expressed through Christ which constrains and us to present ourselves in consecration to do his will. Thus we become his ‘servants’, and our appreciation of the divine mercy and love extended to us should influence us to be merciful also. Mercy is one of the expressions of true holiness; we are admonished to be holy, as God is holy.

How sad that in the parable the servant to whom so much had been forgiven should refuse to show mercy toward a fellow-servant, who, by comparison, owed him a very small debt. His fellow-servants, as well as the king, were displeased with his ungrateful attitude, and saw to his proper punishment.

Jesus taught his disciples to pray, “Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” Then he emphasized the importance of this, saying, “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if ye forgive not men their trespasses neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (Matt. 6:12,14,15) As Jesus’ statement to Peter implied, there is no limit to the number of times we should forgive those who trespass against us; for there is no limit to the times we need the Heavenly Father’s forgiveness, and will receive it, if we have forgiven others.

Our Heavenly Father desires that we recognize our need of his forgiveness, and to ask for it; likewise, it is proper that our ‘debtors’ ask our forgiveness. But, it is important that we, like God, have a heart desiring to forgive even before forgiveness is asked. How well this was manifested in the spirit of mercy and willingness to forgive which prompted God’s gift of love to the world, in the person of our Savior. Had God waited for the world to repent and seek forgiveness, a redeemer would never have been provided.

As servants of the Most High we have been invited to be a part of his plan for the recovery of mankind from sin. But to effectively serve, our motives and our actions must reflect those of our Master. And to develop this is the whole purpose of the Christian life.

God’s plan of salvation is centered around his desire to forgive. The stated objective of the New Covenant is, “For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” (Jer. 31:34) Remember the returning prodigal son? When “yet a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him,” and said, “For this my son was dead and is alive again: he was lost and is found!”—Luke 15:20,24

Let us learn to forgive as God forgives.

Dawn Bible Students Association
|  Home Page  |  Table of Contents  |