Bible Study about Forgiveness from Matthew 18:21-35
You may have heard the parable about the unforgiving debtor. Is Jesus talking about someone in another country, or us?
How willing are we to forgive others when they do us wrong? I know this is one of the most difficult things for me to do.
Bitterness has a way of creeping back into our lives and keeps us from totally forgiving others.
What does Jesus say about forgiveness?
Listen to his story from the Bible about the unforgiving debtor to find out how Christ feels about forgiving others.
The Unforgiving Debtor – “Seventy Times Seven”
Then Peter came and said to Him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?”
Jesus *said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.
“For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves.
When he had begun to settle them, one who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him.
But since he did not have the means to repay, his lord commanded him to be sold, along with his wife and children and all that he had, and repayment to be made.
So the slave fell to the ground and prostrated himself before him, saying, ‘Have patience with me and I will repay you everything.’
And the lord of that slave felt compassion and released him and forgave him the debt.
But that slave went out and found one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred denarii; and he seized him and began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay back what you owe.’
So his fellow slave fell to the ground and began to plead with him, saying, ‘Have patience with me and I will repay you.’
But he was unwilling and went and threw him in prison until he should pay back what was owed.
So when his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were deeply grieved and came and reported to their lord all that had happened.
Then summoning him, his lord said to him, ‘You wicked slave, I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me.
Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow slave, in the same way that I had mercy on you?’
And his lord, moved with anger, handed him over to the torturers until he should repay all that was owed him.
My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart.” – Matthew 18:21-35 NASB
How Many Times Should We Forgive Others?
During the time of Jesus’ ministry, the normal procedure was to forgive others for three offenses. So Peter, thinking that three might not be enough, asked Christ if seven times was enough.
He felt surely that this was overkill, and he would get a positive response from Jesus.
But, to his surprise, Jesus answered “seventy times seven“.
This is not a direct number but means that we should keep forgiving over and over just as God does for us.
What if we were given seven chances?
What would happen to most of us if we were only forgiven seven times by God?
Would we pass the test?
I can’t say with certainty about you, but I would fail miserably. I’m not even sure I could last for one day under these circumstances.
The Promise of Forgiveness from God
These are the very reasons we need a personal relationship with Christ.
When we accept Him as our Lord and Savior, our sins are forgiven – completely. Our past is null and forgotten and our future secure.
It’s a fact that we are going to commit more sins. No matter how hard we try to avoid them, they creep into our lives.
One of the main differences between a Christian and Non-Christian is that we are forgiven.
We are no better than any other person in the world except that we have Jesus to guide us through life and to forgive us when we fail.
We try to live a better life, and God can help through the Holy Spirit. But we will never be free of sin as long as we are still living.
The parable about the unforgiving debtor relates directly to us.
The love and forgiveness shown to us by Christ should not be withheld from others who have wronged us.
The Double Standard
When we hold a grudge (guilty) against fellow Christians, friends, or family members we are allowing ourselves to create a double standard.
We are just like the slave who did not treat his fellow slave as his master had treated him.
What Would Jesus Do?
Not forgiving others is living outside of what Jesus taught us.
I know we will continue to miss the mark, but let’s try to pay more attention to the Lord’s Prayer which says;
“… forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” – Matthew 6:12
Love in Christ
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