The Power of Forgiveness: Forgive and Be Forgiven

“Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt.”—Matthew 18:17

Have you ever felt the pressure of paying bills you can’t afford? Do people owe you money they can’t afford?  Nothing new or modern about this dilemma.

Jesus told the story of a certain king who wanted to settle his accounts.  One servant owed a staggering debt that he could never pay. The king threatened to sell him and his family until the man got down on his knees and begged for mercy.  The king was “moved with compassion, released him, and forgave his debt.” 

Wow.  Surely that servant learned a lesson in compassion and gratefulness! But what did he do?  He found a fellow servant who was in debt to him and refused to forgive the debt even as the man begged for mercy, just as he had.  He even throttled him by the throat and threw him in jail.

The king was furious when he learned what happened. 

“You wicked servant!” he pronounced. “Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?’ 

The king threw him back into prison to be punished.

 “So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses,” Jesus warned (Matthew 18:35).

The worst prison in the world is the prison of an unforgiving heart. The refusal to forgive brings on the worst kind of self-inflicted punishment.  

Jesus is saying, I am going to forgive you for everything you’ve done; you need to forgive anything anyone has done to you, or you will pay the consequences.  

Jesus was very serious about this and set the example on the cross. He was betrayed, arrested, tortured, and crucified.  And yet what did He say on the cross? 

He not only saved us but He did something else that is the foundation of the entire kingdom of heaven. 

He cried out in His agony, “Father forgive them, for they do not know what they do” (Luke 23:34). 

Jesus set the ultimate example of living in forgiveness and grace.

Ray Bentley