The Grace of God

That Brings Salvation Has Appeared to All Men (Titus 2:11)

The Serious Consequences of Unforgiveness

Jesus said that the one who is forgiven much, loves much. I hope this describes you, dear reader, for love will cover a multitude of sins.

Just after Jesus told Peter that forgiveness must be given to an offender not seven times only, but seventy times seven, He taught an important parable that every Christian should be careful to remember.

Therefore the kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants.  And when he had begun to settle accounts, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents.  But as he was not able to pay, his master commanded that he be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and that payment be made.  The servant therefore fell down before him, saying, ‘Master, have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’  Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt.  (Matt. 18:23-27)

Firstly, I’d like you to notice that being a Christian is likened to being in a kingdom under the jurisdiction of a King who will settle accounts with His servants. Jesus came preaching “the kingdom of Heaven” (or “the kingdom of God”) of which He Himself was and is the eternal King.  Each of us who have entered the good graces of that King, have done so by falling down before Him and desiring to be forgiven of a great debt we could not repay.  What man can cleanse his offending record and justify himself from the sins he has committed against this good King and His holy law of love? He cannot do it; he must have the compassion and forgiveness of the master, or he is all undone.  The master in this story (a picture of God) was “moved with compassion”–for the Lord is gracious and full of compassion, slow to anger and great in mercy (Psa. 145:8).  He released him from the debt and freely forgave him, just as God will do for any sinner who humbles himself before Him earnestly desiring the Master’s patience.

“But that servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and he laid hands on him and took him by the throat, saying, ‘Pay me what you owe!’  So his fellow servant fell down at his feet and begged him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ And he would not, but went and threw him into prison till he should pay the debt.  So when his fellow servants saw what had been done, they were very grieved, and came and told their master all that had been done.  (Matt. 18:28-31)

Forgiven Christian, the question before you now is what will you do when one of your fellow servants becomes indebted to you through some injustice in word or deed?  Will you respond toward him the same way the King has responded toward you? Or will you hold the debt over his head, refusing to follow the example of the One who forgave you?  It is very important that we receive not the grace of God in vain. The kindness of God is meant to lead us to repentance. We ought not only to forsake the sin previously committed, but to become different people–people who respond to our debtors as God has responded to us.

Jesus instructed His disciples to pray, “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors,” and adds this warning: For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.(Matt. 6:12, 14-15)  This is plain language indicating that our own forgiveness (and salvation) is in part conditioned upon our choosing to forgive our debtors.  If instead, we hold our debtors in the prison of unforgiveness, what will become of us? The Lord’s teaching is dangerously clear.

Then his master, after he had called him, said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me.  Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?’  And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him.  “So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.”  (Matt. 18:32-35)

Is it possible to be a servant of the Lord, fully forgiven of all debt (sins) by the compassionate King, and then through our subsequent choices, forfeit the mercy that was ours? Indeed, it is, for the Lord has spoken truly: So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses. And what will He do?  He will hold our past offenses (which were previously forgiven) against us until we pay for them. How can we pay for them and free ourselves from “the torturers”? We can’t.

Dear saint, you are called to be perfect even as your Father in heaven is perfect(Matt. 5:48).  Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy (Matt. 5: 7).Therefore be merciful, just as your Father in heaven is merciful (Luke 6: 36).  You must forgive your brother from the heart, if you wish to remain in the love of God. Offenses sting and wound us, but as we forgive them, we are walking in the perfect way of love. We remember how great a debt the Lord forgave us, and how great a wound our sins imposed upon Him; and in the light of this, we count the sins committed against us of little regard and easily forgiven.  We lavish the same love on others that has been given unto us, thereby becoming conduits of the mercy of God to others. But if we reject this mission of mercy, we become debtors to God once again.

By the Spirit of God, our brother James wrote: 

Do not grumble against one another, brethren, lest you be condemned. Behold, the Judge is standing at the door! (James 5:9)

Did James write that we will merely experience some loss of intimacy with God if we grumble against one another, or did he write that we will be condemned?  The wise Christian will take warning, and not try to explain away the clear teaching of God.  Forgiveness is not always easy, but it must be done by choice despite our feelings.  We choose to obey our Lord and follow His example, knowing His ways are right and good, and He in turn comforts us in our afflictions and removes the sting of our wounds. You can have a still-smarting wound and choose to walk in forgiveness, just as Jesus said, “Father forgive them” even as He suffered on the cross.  Choose today to always forgive your debtors immediately and thoroughly,from the heart, and you will be blessed.

Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering;  bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.(Col. 3:13)

Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice.  And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.  (Eph. 4:31-32)

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