Our Lord Jesus Christ came into the world to bear our sin and our guilt. He “was made sin for us” (2 Corinthians 5:21), and suffered under the curse of the Law, “being made a curse for us” (Galatians 3:13). Our sins have been removed “as far as the east is from the west” (Psalm 103:12). They have been taken away (John 1:29). Yes, “The blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7). Jesus has reconciled us unto the Father in heaven (2 Corinthians 5:19). The blessings won for all are the precious possession and comfort of all who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. “He that believes and is baptized shall be saved. . .”(Mark 16:16). What a precious gift of grace has been given us unworthy sinners!
In the Lord’s Prayer we pray, “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Jesus died once for the putting away of our sins. Yet since we daily sin much, the sensitive and penitent Christian will pray every day that the forgiveness once won be applied every day. And every day the Lord Jesus forgives our sins and restores to us the confidence of salvation. Every Sunday in our liturgical service we are assured from the Holy Scriptures: “Almighty God, our Heavenly Father, has had mercy upon us and has given His only Son to die for us and for His sake forgives us all our sins.” What a loving Father we have!
Our Lord told the parable of the wicked servant to whom the master of the house had forgiven an otherwise insurmountable debt. He did this because he had compassion. The forgiven servant nevertheless went to a fellow servant who owed him. The forgiven servant refused to hear the pleading of his neighbor and extracted payment. When the master heard that he reinstated the debt he had forgiven. He said, ” Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you” (Matthew 18:33)? The questions calls for an answer of “Yes.” “And his master was angry and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due him” (34) In other words what had been given was taken away! Why? Because he who had been forgiven much, could not and would not forgive little. The end result? ” So my heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses” (Matthew 18:35).
Forgiveness of our brother does not mean approval of what he has done. It does not necessarily even mean that we can forget what the brother has done, as much as we would want to. It does mean that the sin is pardoned. Forgiveness means that we will not hold the sin against our neighbor.
But then who is miserable when one cannot forgive the brother? It is the one who cannot forgive! It is the one who bears the grudge. It is also that one who endangers his soul for “If you do not forgive, neither will your Father which is heaven forgive your trespasses” (Mark 11:25-26).
The exercise of forgiveness may not be easy. It may not be something one wants to do. This is the flesh. Peter asked, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Till seven times? Jesus said unto him, I say not unto you, Until seven times; but until seventy times seven” (Matthew 18: 21,22). The math is not important. The readiness to forgive as often as necessary is the point of Jesus’ word.
How much better off families would be, the church would be, society would be, if there were more self-examination, less accusation and more forgiveness. But only they who know the forgiveness that is in Christ and how much they have been forgiven can truly have the heart to reflect that mind of Christ which is, “Thy sins be forgiven You” (Matthew 9:2). But they also have most to lose who having known the grace of God through forgiveness will not for whatever reason forgive the brother. For a moment personalize the Lord’s Prayer and think what you are saying when you say, “Forgive me my trespasses as I forgive those who trespass against me.” Then ask yourself, ” Do I really each time want my Heavenly Father to forgive me as I forgive my brother?”
“God, be merciful to me a sinner” (Luke 18:13), and help me to practice forgiveness.