Do we for­give those who sin against us?

Westside Eagle-Observer - - OPINION - By Randy Moll [De­vo­tion by Randy Moll. Scrip­ture taken from the New King James Ver­sion®. Copy­right © 1982 by Thomas Nel­son. Used by per­mis­sion. All rights re­served.]

Then Peter came to Him and said, “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.” Matthew 18:21-22 (Read v. 21-35)

How of­ten should we for­give a brother who sins against us? This is the ques­tion Peter asked of Je­sus. Note Je­sus’ an­swer: “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.”

Je­sus did not mean only 490 times but all the time! Like our Lord, we are al­ways to be “abun­dant in mercy” and “ready to for­give” (Psalm 86:5).

The para­ble of the un­for­giv­ing ser­vant il­lus­trates Je­sus’ point to Peter.

A cer­tain ser­vant owed the king such a great amount that he would never be able to work off and re­pay his debt. When the king justly would have sold him and all that he had to re­cover at least a part of this debt, the ser­vant pleaded for mercy. The king was moved to com­pas­sion and for­gave the en­tire debt.

But then this ser­vant went out and found a fel­low ser­vant who owed him only a small and in­signif­i­cant amount in com­par­i­son with the huge debt which had been for­given him. Rather than show­ing mercy to this ser­vant as he had been shown mercy by his lord, he re­fused to for­give this small debt and “threw him into prison till he should pay the debt.”

When the king saw that his com­pas­sion and for­give­ness had no ef­fect on this un­for­giv­ing ser­vant, he was an­gry and “de­liv­ered him to the tor­tur­ers un­til he should pay all that was due to him.”

We, like the first ser­vant in this para­ble, owe to God a greater debt than we can ever re­pay. Our sins against the Lord God are so great that we de­serve only to be cast into the eter­nal fires of hell. All we can do is fall down be­fore the Lord God and plead for Him to show us mercy!

And God did have mercy upon us! When we looked to Him in faith, He for­gave our great debt of sin. Be­cause Je­sus Christ took our bur­den of sins upon Him­self and bore on the cross the just pun­ish­ment for them, God can­celed out our debt of sin and has given to us com­plete par­don and for­give­ness!

In our earthly lives, oth­ers sin against us many times; but this debt of sin, though it may seem great to us, is small and in­signif­i­cant in com­par­i­son with the great debt of sin that the Lord God has for­given to us. As a fruit of our faith in Christ Je­sus, and as a re­sult of God’s great mercy to us in Christ, we ought also for­give those who sin against us, even “up to seventy times seven.”

If we refuse to for­give, from our hearts, those who sin against us, nei­ther will our heav­enly Fa­ther for­give us; in­stead, He will cast us into the fires of hell! Cf. Matthew 6:12,14-15.

For­give our sins, Lord, we im­plore, re­move from us their bur­den sore, as we their tres­passes for­give who by of­fenses us do grieve. Thus let us dwell in char­ity and serve our brother will­ingly. Amen. (The Lutheran Hym­nal, Page 458, Verse 6)

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