As believers in Jesus, we have reason to be cautious as we look at Matthew 18:23-35
18:23-35. “For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves…. “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 …. and threw him in prison until he should pay back what was owed…. My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart.”
“From the heart” – That is tough. I would not be surprised to find that many of us have dozens of people that we need to forgive. I am thinking of a time that I needed to forgive someone. It seems to be the people who are closest to us that can cause the most pain. What made this harder was the person never asked to be forgiven. But again as Christians, one way or the other, we are called to forgive others
I am glad this passage does not say whole heart, but simply heart. Whole heart would have been much more difficult. At the same time, I do not see a boundary line on how much our hearts must forgive. When there is no clear standard I try to err on the side of what God is requiring, in this case, that would be more forgiveness.
Another thing to keep in mind, we can forgive someone and find the event crossing our minds at a future time. In those cases we need to refresh the forgiveness. One thing that helps one know they have forgiven another with heart is being able to sincerely pray for them, for their life, and for their participation in the Kingdom of God. And yes, it can still come up after that, just rinse and repeat. Also, from time to time you will think of people you need to forgive, people that were not even on your mind. Don’t put it off. Do it in your head or do it out loud but, if possible, do it then and there. Finish by asking God to bring it up later if you need to include more heart. Then move on with what you are doing. This is a good practice for when people ask us to pray for something as well.
Anger and bitterness will hinder or even arrest peace in our lives. “Pursue peace with all men, as well as holiness, without which no one will see the Lord. Be careful that no one falls short of the grace of God, so that no root of bitterness will spring up to cause trouble and defile many.” Bitterness causes troubles and defiles. One practical way to check if there are people we need of forgive is by scanning ourselves. If we see any hurt, resentment, anger, bitterness, etc. we likely have a bit of forgiveness to do.
I do not believe a Christian can loose their eternal security in Christ Jesus, but there are verses on both sides. One way or the other, we can be sure we do not fail in this area. The next time you talk to God ask Him to bring to light anyone to whom you are harboring ill will. Then ask God to help your forgive them from the heart. And if you are able, “bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.”
May God build us into people of forgiveness, mercy and grace. Let us have security and peace rather than trouble and decay.
This is a good thing. This is not something to fear, but something for which to give thanks. We are forgiven and we can forgive.
And for someone … if this seems to weak a thing to do. I suggest considering God, with all power and strength did not consider it to weak a thing to do.
23 “For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. 24 “When he had begun to settle them, one who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him. 25 “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. 26 “So the slave fell to the ground and prostrated himself before him, saying, ‘Have patience with me and I will repay you everything.’ 27 “And the lord of that slave felt compassion and released him and forgave him the debt. 28“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.’ 29“So his fellow slave fell to the ground and began to plead with him, saying, ‘Have patience with me and I will repay you.’ 30 “But he was unwilling and went and threw him in prison until he should pay back what was owed. 31 “So when his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were deeply grieved and came and reported to their lord all that had happened. 32 “Then summoning him, his lord said to him, ‘You wicked slave, I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. 33 ‘Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow slave, in the same way that I had mercy on you?’ 34 “And his lord, moved with anger, handed him over to the torturers until he should repay all that was owed him. 35 “My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart.”