Failure to Forgive Could Cost Us Heaven

Unforgiveness

What can we learn from the parable of the unforgiving servant in Matthew 18:21-35?

  • Forgiveness cancels a debt. The practice of canceling a debt serves as a metaphor for practicing forgiveness. Forgiveness presupposes that someone bear the cost of what is owed
  • Forgiveness makes a three-fold promise: (1) I will not bring up this offense again or use it against you. (2) I will not gossip or malign you because of this offense. (3) I will not dwell on this offense
  • Failure to forgive turns victims into victimizers. The servant in the parable did not forgive. When we fail to forgive, we are active, not passive. We choose to exact every little penny until we are satisfied—and we are never satisfied.
  • Failure to forgive has an eternal cost. Jesus focuses our attention on an eternal, vertical orientation. He shows how high of a price we will pay if we do not forgive—failure to forgive will ultimately cost us heaven.
  • Forgiveness is both an event and a process. If you see forgiveness as an event and a process you’ll be less likely to fall into the desire for revenge.
  • Forgiveness is not forgetting. The word “remember” (taken from Jeremiah 31:34) doesn’t mean memory but means covenant. A covenant is a promise and when God forgives our sins; He does not forget that they happened, instead He makes us a promise not to treat us as our sins deserve.
  • Forgiveness is not peace at any cost

How do you practice forgiveness?

  • Don’t turn a blind eye to sin (Matthew 18). Verses 1-5 speak about having humility. Verses 6-9 speak of not ignoring sin but taking it seriously. Verses 10-14 speak about loving lost and wayward people.  Verses 15-20 speak about personal confrontation and the church’s corporate discipline
  • Love the habitual sinner wisely (Romans 12:17-19). This passage limits what you can do when loving a habitual sinner. Do not take matters into your own hands, but entrust the person to God.
  • Hold yourself to a high biblical standard (Matthew 5:38-39). This passage calls us to go the distance with people, even evil people. At a personal live, if someone sins against you, put revenge aside, remain open to the possibility of reconciliation with the offender, and do good to them in the meantime.
  • Deal first with your own heart attitude (Mark 11:25, 17:3)
  • Ask for forgiveness. Name the sin, then explicitly ask the person for forgiveness (this is the act of confession). Confession is not done merely “to get a sense of guilt off one’s chest” but it is a sinner’s acknowledgement of his/her guilt against another in order to seek his/her forgiveness and achieve reconciliation

This post was a brief summary of Timothy Lane’s article Pursuing and Granting Forgiveness

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