Forgiveness is Not an Option for the Believer


Have you ever been wronged by anyone? Of course, you have been wronged by another. Have you ever wronged anyone? Of course, you have wronged others. We are sinful, so it goes to say that we have wronged and have been wronged. Why then are we so surprised when wronged? We are surprised because we walk around in pride thinking that we are better than we really are. When wrong is committed either by us or others, we have but one option – to seek to be forgiven or to seek to forgive (Matthew 6:12, 14-15). There Jesus presents that Forgiveness is Not an Option for the Believer.

Matthew 6:12, 14-15

12 And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors…14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

“Forgiving often does not come easily. We may beat up on ourselves for some sin in our lives even after God has forgiven us. And many of us find it difficult to forgive others. Oftentimes we want others who have done us wrong to suffer for their actions. Jesus says that if we do not forgive others, we cannot experience His forgiveness. Some are reluctant to forgive because they feel that by doing so would discount the wrong done by others when in actuality forgiving says the opposite. Forgiving requires first acknowledging that an act was wrong. If not then there would be no need for forgiveness. When we forgive we are saying,” What you did was wrong but I release you from its penalty.” We also release ourselves when we forgive those who have harmed us. By failing to forgive keeps us bound to the one who has wronged us. Only by forgiving can we put the past behind us. Nursing hurts from the past requires energy, energy that can be used in living the full and abundant life in the present. Forgiveness is the door to freedom.” (Crystal Coast)

Matthew Henry shares that God, in forgiving us, has a peculiar respect to our forgiving those that have injured us; and therefore, when we pray for pardon, we must mention our making conscience of that duty, not only to remind ourselves of it, but to bind ourselves to it. See that parable, Matt. 18:23-25. Selfish nature is loth to comply with this, and therefore it is here inculcated, Matt. 6:14, 15. He that relents toward his brother, thereby shows that he repents toward his God. Those which in the prayer are called debts, are here called trespasses, debts of injury, wrongs done to us in our bodies, goods, or reputation: trespasses is an extenuating term for offences, paraptomatastumbles, slips, falls.

In our text (Matthew 6:12-15) today, we are reminded of Jesus’ requirement to forgive in efforts to be forgiven. As such, Forgiveness is Not an Option for the Believer. “Jesus reminds us to make forgiving and being forgiven a matter of prayer. Jesus uses two different words here in Matthew 6:12-15. The word translated sin or debt in verse 12 is the word “opheilemata” [opheilēma] while the word “paraptomata” [paraptōma] is translated transgression in verse 14. In verse 12 opheilemata is an offense that requires that reparation be made where paraptomata in verse 14 is deliberately stepping over the line or boundary placed by another. Consider the offense directed to the Father. When we see our actions, and thoughts in contrast to a holy God we can do no other than forgive the person who has crossed over the boundaries we have set in our lives. How can the offense of another compare to the offense that we have directed towards God? As we walk in relations with Father, we exhibit the inherit nature of God as we extend agape to others regardless of their actions and regardless to their reaction to our extending agape towards them. Relationship with Father allows the Holy Spirit to reveal His glory (Exodus 34:6,7 comp with 33:18) through us.”

We must forgive, as we hope to be forgiven; and therefore must not only bear no malice, nor mediate revenge, but must not upbraid our brother with the injuries he has done us, nor rejoice in any hurt that befals him, but must be ready to help him and do him good, and if he repent and desire to be friends again, we must be free and familiar with him, as before. Matthew Henry

Our aim should be to glorify the Father. If that is the case, forgiveness glorifies the Father. It is what Jesus represents. It is what we should represent. I am speaking out of my deficit or struggle to forgive. We find the key in contrasting the words the word  debts, opheilēma, and trespasses, paraptōma. While the former is seen as deliberate acts to hurt which require reparations and Jesus paid that for us, the latter should be seen as missteps or lapses which only require us to see the person as one who truly cares for us but made a mistake in judgement in a carrying out that act.

Whether you feel you can adjust your state of mind or not, Forgiveness is Not an Option for the Believer. “But if you forgive not those that have injured you, that is a bad sign you have not the other requisite conditions, but are altogether unqualified for pardon: and therefore your Father, whom you call Father, and who, as a father, offers you his grace upon reasonable terms, will nevertheless not forgive you. Pray with me that we are strengthened by the Holy Spirit to carry out Forgiveness. Remember, we must be humble.

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