• johned@aibi.ph

Eternity 130 - Forgiving Your Brother

Forgiveness is central to the gospel and to life in the Kingdom of Heaven. In fact forgiveness puts an end to the law of retaliation and the concept that "justice means that every wrong is noted and every offender appropriately punished". Such an unflinching and exact world of retributive justice and the "lex talonis" is harsh, grace-less, and unlovely. As someone once said "In a world where its an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, soon everyone is blind and toothless"..

(Matthew 18:21-35 NKJV) Then Peter came to Him and said, "Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?" {22} Jesus said to him, "I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven. {23} "Therefore the kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. {24} "And when he had begun to settle accounts, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. {25} "But as he was not able to pay, his master commanded that he be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and that payment be made. {26} "The servant therefore fell down before him, saying, 'Master, have patience with me, and I will pay you all.' {27} "Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt.

{28} "But that servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and he laid hands on him and took him by the throat, saying, 'Pay me what you owe!' {29} "So his fellow servant fell down at his feet and begged him, saying, 'Have patience with me, and I will pay you all.' {30} "And he would not, but went and threw him into prison till he should pay the debt. {31} "So when his fellow servants saw what had been done, they were very grieved, and came and told their master all that had been done. {32} "Then his master, after he had called him, said to him, 'You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. {33} 'Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?' {34} "And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him. {35} "So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses."

James gives a one-line summary of the parable above: James 2:13 NKJV) For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment

Jesus has three well known sayings that reinforce this:
(Matthew 5:7 NKJV) Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy.
(Matthew 9:13 NKJV) "But go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy and not sacrifice.' For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance."
(Matthew 6:14-15 NKJV) "For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. {15} "But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

In the Kingdom of Heaven mercy and forgiveness are required virtues. Without them we cannot enter for God will not be merciful to us if we in turn are not merciful to others. And who can be saved apart from His mercy?

Christians should be looking about for someone to find fault with or to punish, or to correct. Rather Christians should be looking about to find someone that they show mercy to.

The ungrateful servant in the parable above had a perfect legal right to do what he did. But it was still wrong. Legal rights do not necessarily constitute heavenly approval. To say "You owe me a thousand dollars now pay up or I will take you to court until you pay the last penny" is simply not Christian. (see 1 Corinthians 6:1-8). We owe others and others will owe us. If we don't owe others, we still owe God a debt we can never repay.

Litigious Christians have lost the spirit of the gospel. So have Christians who run to the pastor or to the board with every slight and every infringement by a church member. Christians are not to do the work of the Accuser of the brethren. But in the last days it seems that they will: "(Matthew 24:10 NKJV) "And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another." The last days will be a time of Christian spitefulness, betrayal, litigation and back-stabbing. It will be a time when forbearance,mercy and forgiveness have fled the earth.

How does this work out for you and I? We must forget about exact justice, we must forgive old wounds, let go of old debts, release those in our power and be prepared to lose a few thousand dollars in the process. The wicked servant was not prepared to lose a hundred denarii - a hundred days wages (maybe $10,000 in todays terms) - so he lost everything! Grace always costs something, but ungraciousness costs everything!

[P.S.: For those who may be unfamiliar with it here is 1 Cor 6:1-8:
(1 Corinthians 6:1-8 NKJV) Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unrighteous, and not before the saints? {2} Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world will be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters? {3} Do you not know that we shall judge angels? How much more, things that pertain to this life? {4} If then you have judgments concerning things pertaining to this life, do you appoint those who are least esteemed by the church to judge? {5} I say this to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you, not even one, who will be able to judge between his brethren? {6} But brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers! {7} Now therefore, it is already an utter failure for you that you go to law against one another. Why do you not rather accept wrong? Why do you not rather let yourselves be cheated? {8} No, you yourselves do wrong and cheat, and you do these things to your brethren!}