Text:           Matthew 18:21-35

By:              Bro. Chris Afekolu (Bishop)

Download Lesson


 If there is any topic which hits the very heart of Christianity it is forgiveness. God was so con­cerned about forgiving sinful people, such as us, that He paid the highest possible price to offer us that forgiveness. He sent His own Son into the world as a man to live among us, teach us the right way, suffer the trials and temptations we go through, and ultimately die the agonizing shameful death on the cross at Calvary so that we could be saved. “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21).

God’s overwhelming grace was shown when those very people who had been there crying out for the blood of His Son were cut to the heart on the Day of Pentecost at the preaching of Peter and cried out “Brethren, what shall we do?” God had Peter to answer them, “Repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:37, 38). When 3,000 of them obeyed, God freely forgave them of all their sins.

The truth is, God stands ready to forgive any of us of all of our sins, when we have the faith to turn to Him in obedience. When Peter denied the Lord with cursing at the very hour He needed a friend to stand close and give encouragement, it would have seemed hopeless for him to come back. But when he repented of the sin, God not only forgave him, He called on Peter to be the one who would preach the first full gospel sermon on the Day of Pentecost. He would be the very one to use the keys of the kingdom and open the doors for men of every race to come to God.

While it is marvelous to meditate on God’s forgiveness of us, God challenges us to follow Him and be forgiving of those who sin against us the same way He forgives us when we sin against Him. Jesus set the pattern in the model prayer. “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. . . . But if you do not for­give men, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions” (Matthew 6:12–15). In the Bible,  the Holy Spirit said through Paul, “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:32).

When Jesus explained to the disciples, if they had a problem with a brother, they were to go to the brother alone and try to win back the brother and if he did not repent, take two or three with them. Ultimately, if he would not repent, it was to be taken to the church. Peter’s response was, “‘. . . 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). Jesus went on to tell one of the great stories of the Bible about forgiveness.

The king forgave one who owed more than could ever be repaid. In our time it would be over $7,000,000.00 (2.52 Trillion Naira). The same man went out and found someone who owed him $15.00 (5,400 Naira), and refused to forgive that person, instead having him and his family thrown into prison until all was paid. When the king found out, he summoned the servant to him and said to him:

“Then his master, after he had called him, said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. ‘Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?’ “And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him.So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.” (Matthew 18:32-35 NKJV).

The central lesson of this parable is the necessity for the forgiven to be forgiving. If anything is clearly taught in the pages of the New Testament, it is that since we have been forgiven, we should always be ready to forgive others. Paul wrote these words to the brethren at Ephesus and Colossae:

Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you. (Ephesians 4:31-32 NKJV)

 ‘Bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. (Colossians 3:13 NKJV)

Surely it is obvious from all this that there are no limits on forgiveness. The worst of crimes and abuses are still in the forgivable realm. And forgiveness is not something we try to get oth­ers to measure up to before we offer it. In Luke 17:3–4, Jesus was talking. He said,

“Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. “And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you, saying, ‘I repent,’ you shall forgive him.” (Luke 17:3-4 NKJV)

The command here is for us to always forgive our brethren despite the frequency of their sin. …. Even if he turns right around and does it again, even seven times in a day, our place is to forgive. We are not to be in the examin­ing of repentance business. Our place is to forgive and leave the examination to God.

 Often people say, if you forgive, you will forget. When God forgives, He does forget (not Literal forgetfulness). He says, “Their sins and iniquities I will remember no more.” But there is not any place where we are told to forgive and forget. The truth is, we are so made by God that we never fully forget anything.

Everything we have ever seen, heard, or experienced is tucked away somewhere in our brains. This is not necessarily bad; if not the person maybe suffering memory loss. But we can forget in the sense that we do not bring a thing up any more and we do not act on the things which do come to mind. Forgiveness should bring a behavioral change. If someone is forgiven of a sin, we should treat him as though he had never committed the sin to begin with.

Quite often when you talk with people about the need to forgive the answer is “They don’t deserve it.” Or “They have never asked me to forgive them.” Remember, we are to forgive like the Lord. How did Jesus do on this matter of forgiveness on the cross? Were not the very first words He spoke “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34)? The ones for whom He was praying certainly had not asked for it. They had not repented of their sins.

Did God forgive them? Not immediately. He did, when the gospel was preached to them and they repented and obeyed God.

The lesson for us is, we can forgive the sins of those around us and be freed from the burden the grudge has on us, but it does not mean they are forgiven by God. God’s forgiveness of others is not based on what we do, but on what they do.

  • We need to be forgiving for our own good and for our relation­ship with others around us.
  • We also need to be forgiving for our relationship with God

In the year 1818, Tamatoe, king of Huahine, one of the South Sea Islands, became a Christian. Soon afterward, he discovered a vicious plot among his fellow natives to seize him and other converts to Christianity and to burn them to death. Tamatoe organized a band of soldiers and ambushed the plotters, capturing them unawares and without violence. He then set a huge feast before them at his banquet tables. It was a gesture of forgiveness and a demonstration of the forgiveness of Christ. This unexpected kindness by Tamatoe surprised the native savages, who burned their idols and became Christians, too. The power of forgiveness is awesome

Forgiveness is powerful. Having a forgiving heart is an important part of Jesus’ agenda for His people.

What Forgiveness Will Do for Us

When we get into the forgiveness habit, we will find that forgiveness does more for the one who forgives than it does for the one who is forgiven. If we do not forgive, bitterness grows in our hearts. Hebrews 12:15 warns against this shortcoming: “See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled.”

Again, forgiveness will set us free. If we let animosity eat at our souls, filling our thoughts by day and keeping us from sleep at night, we are letting the object of that animosity {acrimony, hatred, rancor, enmity) control our lives. Harboring bitterness does not hurt others; it hurts us. Forgiving those who have hurt us throws off the burden of hatred, unshackles us from resentment, and releases us to get on with our lives! No wonder Jesus commanded us to forgive as we have been forgiven!

Forgiveness is one of those commands of God which is life changing for the one who will obey the command. Nothing is more devastating to our mental and emotional health, much less our spiritual health, than holding a grudge we refuse to turn loose of. Life becomes bitter and painful. We live out physical pains brought on by emotional hurt.

Failure to forgive leaves us torn apart spiri­tually. We are angry at everyone whom we feel has mistreated us in some way. The anger and resentment builds a wall between us and God. Our ability to openly plead to God about our own hurts and problems is destroyed because of the failure to forgive others. A grudge always ends up hurting the one who holds it far, far more than the one against whom it is held.


 Key takeaway from our discussion

  • We have been forgiven of our sins; we should be ready, therefore, to forgive others of their sins.
  • If we do not forgive, we cannot be forgiven.
  • Forgiveness does more for the one who forgives than it does for the one who is forgiven; it gives you peace instead of burning in your bitterness

God, help us learn to forgive!

Download Lesson
share to others

You May Also Like

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *