Forgiven, but Unforgiving

“For if you forgive otherstheir trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgiveothers their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6:14-15).

Last month, a Florida mother displayed great forgiveness when she agreed to a pleadeal for her daughter’s killer.  16-year-old Jordyn Howe was charged withmanslaughter after he shot 13-year-old Lourdes Guzman-DeJesus on a school busin 2012.  Although grieved over her daughter’s death, this mother went onrecord as saying, “Justice hasalready been served … I really do forgive him.”  Mr. Howe will spendone year in a juvenile facility and serve his supervised probation teachingother kids about gun danger. Pictured here is Lourdes’ mom hugging Jordyn inthe courtroom following his sentencing. 

Many wouldfind that type of forgiveness impossible.  Once a disciple of Christwrestled with this issue and asked, “Lord, how oft shall my brother sin againstme, and I forgive him?” (Matthew 18:21). To answer his question, Jesus told the story of acertain king who forgave a man a sizable debt.  Somescholars suggest that the man may have been a provincial governor who hadborrowed no less than $6 billion for a community project.  When the notebecame due, the man pleaded for patience as he could not pay it off.  Butinstead of extending the term of the loan, the king compassionately forgave himthe debt.

The storydoes not end there, however.  As this forgiven man left the king’s palacehe ran into a colleague who owed him money.  It comparison to the amounthe had been forgiven, the value was paltry—a measly $10,000.  Yet theforgiven man did not forgive!  Although he had received compassion, hefound no sympathy in his heart for others.  Instead he had the manarrested until the debt could be paid. 

When thenews reached the palace, the king was livid.  He rescinded his offer offorgiveness and delivered him to the tormentors.  Jesus concludes thestory with these words: “So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you,if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses”(Matthew 18:35). 

God hasextended forgiveness to each of us who will receive it by faith, as Christ hasalready paid our enormous sin debt in full.  So the question is this:Having been forgiven of so much, why would we not extend forgiveness to others? The next time you are tempted to be unforgiving, think about what Christ wentthrough to forgive you.

Practical Points for Dealing with Your Enemy:

  • Resist thoughts of revenge.  Leave thepayback to God. (see Romans 12:19).
  • Always do right by your enemy, even if he didyou wrong (see Exodus 23:4). 
  • Don’t try to get even (see 1 Thessalonians5:15). 
  • Don’t harden your heart against the problems ofothers, and that includes your enemy (see Proverbs 24:17). 
  • Don’t curse your enemy; pray for him (see Matthew 5:44). 
  • As much as it depends on you, live peaceablywith your enemy (see Romans 12:18).

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