Forgiving Each Other

Key Verse: “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.”
—Matthew 6:14-15

Selected Scripture:
Matthew 18:21-35

JESUS’ MODEL PRAYER, as recorded in Matthew 6:9-13, contains the words, “Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” At the conclusion of this familiar prayer, Jesus repeats this need to forgive. We are all sinners in Adam and we need God’s forgiveness. Through the merit of the sacrifice of Jesus, the true believer obtains forgiveness, for the sins of the past, and for the mistakes of the present.

The fact that we each have so much that has been forgiven by God would seem to imply that it should be easy to reflect this same forgiving attitude to those around us. Such is so often not the case. One of the most difficult lessons for many to learn is that of extending to others the love and mercy that has been so amply bestowed upon us. Our Key Verse points out that if we do not forgive others, then we should not expect to receive forgiveness from the Father.

Forgiveness is sometimes difficult because it embodies a love that rises to a level above those things that others may have done to cause us harm. Forgiveness is an expression of love that does not seek vindication against wrongs, but rather seeks to draw one back into a fuller fellowship with God and his people. Forgiveness actually forgets that sin was committed against us, in the way that God does: “For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”—Jer. 31:34

On one occasion, Peter asked Jesus how many times he should forgive one who sinned against him, suggestion to the Lord that perhaps seven times would be more than enough. Jesus said otherwise, that he should forgive even “until seventy times seven.” (Matt. 18:22) In other words, forgiveness should not have a limit, just as God has not limited his forgiveness of our trespasses.

After Peter’s question, Jesus gave a parable to illustrate the lesson of forgiveness. (Matt. 18:23-35) In the parable, a king began to take account of his servants. One was brought to him who owed a very large sum of money. This servant begged that the king forgive him his debt. The king was moved with compassion and did so. The servant then met a fellow servant who owed him a small amount of money; laying his hands on him violently he demanded full payment immediately. The fellow servant similarly asked for forgiveness, even falling down at the feet of the first servant. However, the servant would not forgive and had him thrown in prison. The king found out what happened, and was extremely angry, calling him a wicked servant and wondering how he could not have compassion toward his fellowservant after he himself had been forgiven his debt. “In anger his lord delivered him to the jailers, till he should pay all his debt.”—Matt. 18:32-34, RSV

The lesson from Jesus’ parable is for each of us to be forgiving in our dealings with others, especially our fellow servants, our brethren. “So likewise shall my Heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.”—Matt. 18:35

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