“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32).
Forgiveness is defined as to cease to feel resentment against (an offender). The New Testament most commonly expresses the act of forgiving by aphiemi, to let go, give up a debt, forgive, to remit. Also, the verbs charizomai (e.g., 2 Col 2:7 ) and apoluo (e.g., Luke 6:37 ) express the same idea.
There is no limit on forgiveness.
In Matthew 18, Peter asked Jesus how often we should forgive. Jesus replied: “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times” (Matt. 18:21-22). Later Jesus told His followers a parable about the master and the servant in Matthew 18:23-35. In this story Jesus talked about settling accounts.
Jesus began this story by saying “the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants.” A a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold was bought to Him. The man was not able to pay, so the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt. Sobering.
The servant fell on his knees before the king begging him to be patient with him. Telling the king that he will pay back everything. The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled his debt and let him go.
Later, the servant went out, found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins and demanded he pay back what he owed. His fellow servant fell to his knees begging him to be patient with him and that he would pay him back.
But the servant refused. Instead, he had him thrown in prison until he could repay the debt. When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told the master. The master called the servant in for a meeting. He called him wicked, reminding him that he canceled his debt because he begged him. He then told the servant that he should have be merciful to his fellow servant in the same way he had been merciful to him. The master was angry and handed the servant over to the jailers to be tortured until he paid back what he owed.
Jesus then said: “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”
We should forgive unconditionally anyone who asks for mercy just as the unjust servant was told. There is power in forgiveness. When we choose to forgive we are settling accounts with the offender. Lack of forgiveness blocks access to the kingdom and to miracle power of God.
“For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins” (Matthew 6:14-15).
May the grace, joy, and peace of God be yours through Jesus Christ our loving Lord. To Him be glory, now and forever.
Note: All Scriptures are taken from the New International Version unless otherwise noted.