And his lord, moved with anger,
handed him over to the torturer
s 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 19:35

Recently I was working with two students to resolve a quarrel. They were able finally to say that they were sorry for what had happened.  I next asked them if they would be willing to forgive the other one.  They were much slower to say “I forgive” than to say “I’m sorry.”

Why is it hard to forgive another person?  I think the difficulty lies in the fact that forgetting is part of forgiving.  When God forgives, He forgets.

He has not dealt with us according to our sins,
Nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
So great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him.
As far as the east is from the west,
So far has He removed our transgressions from us.
Just as a father has compassion on his children,
So the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him.
Psalm 103:10-13

Forgetting means that we don’t hold a grudge.  It means that we don’t think about the wrong that was done to us, so that our hearts become bitter.  We need to be willing to keep these kinds of thoughts out of our minds so we don’t fill our minds with darkness.  I say darkness because anything that is not of God is darkness.  Holding grudges and being bitter gives a darkness to our spirit.

We also need to forgive because God will not forgive us unless we forgive.  This is a serious thought.  We personally want to be forgiven.  We want to know that we are in right-standing before God.  We need to forgive for this to happen.

The parable in Matthew 18 contrasts the responses of a man who was forgiven a large debt and this same man’s actions to another man who had a small debt.  We are like that man in that we have been forgiven a very large debt.  Our debt is our sin, and it was paid by Jesus Christ on the cross.  God is willing to forgive us of all our sin, if we will trust that Jesus’ death paid the punishment.  Nothing anyone has done to us is as large as that, so we should be willing to forgive.

Be anxious for nothing,
but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving
let your requests be made known to God.
And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension,
will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:6-7

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