Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven. (Matthew 18:21-22)
Forgiveness is at the heart of the Christian life. We are forgiven by God on account of Christ’s suffering, death, and obedience to the commands of God. In Matthew 18, we learn that this forgiveness given to us ought to spur us on to forgiveness of others; indeed, if it does not, we have reason to suspect that the Spirit of Christ is not with us. Amongst the fruits of the spirit listed by Paul in Galatians 55:22-23 are “peace”, “forebearance” and “gentleness”. Our Lord in the fifth petition of his prayer prays “forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.”
Forgiveness is at the heart of what it means to be a Christian. The Westminster Larger Catechism enjoins forgiveness to our duties under the sixth commandment. Unforgiveness demonstrates the kind of spirit we are of; for out of it comes wrath, malice, vengeance, anger, hate, and division.
Matthew Poole comments on our parable today with the following conclusions:
1. That it is our duty, especially theirs who have received forgiveness from God, to forgive their brethren.
2. That if they do not, they may justly question whether God hath forgiven them, and expect the same severity from him which they show unto their brethren.
Matthew Henry comments:
The humbled sinner relies only on free, abounding mercy, through the ransom of the death of Christ. Let us seek more and more for the renewing grace of God, to teach us to forgive others as we hope for forgiveness from him.
Take time today to consider your thoughts, words, and actions with your brothers and sisters in Christ and those outside His Church. Do you show the spirit of Christ by returning good for evil? By forbearing with the sins of others? Consider these things. I’ll leave you with the Westminster Larger Catechism question on forgiveness:
Q. 194. What do we pray for in the fifth petition?
A. In the fifth petition (which is, Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors), acknowledging that we and all others are guilty both of original and actual sin, and thereby become debtors to the justice of God; and that neither we, nor any other creature, can make the least satisfaction for that debt: we pray for ourselves and others, that God of his free grace would, through the obedience and satisfaction of Christ, apprehended and applied by faith, acquit us both from the guilt and punishment of sin, accept us in his Beloved; continue his favor and grace to us, pardon our daily failings, and fill us with peace and joy, in giving us daily more and more assurance of forgiveness; which we are the rather emboldened to ask, and encouraged to expect, when we have this testimony in ourselves, that we from the heart forgive others their offenses.