Two siblings had a fight. The parent steps in and tells the older to forgive the younger, because it is the right thing to do, the Godly thing to do and it will make Jesus happy. So the older, with much reluctance, stretched out his hand and said to the younger, “I forgive you.” Now, what do you think the younger will do?

This really could end one of two ways right? The younger could accept the elder’s gesture of forgiveness and make up. But in this dystopian world, such utopia seldom exists. Instead, the younger slaps away the hand of the older declaring, “I don’t need your forgiveness.” Question; does the gesture of forgiveness still mean anything in this situation right now?

Forgiveness is a highly misunderstood concept. The person seeking it will never feel like they are deserving of it, and so they think they will never receive it. Bystanders looking on will, on the other hand, more often than not, feel that forgiveness should not be withheld. So what are we, the ones who are in the place to forgive, to do?

“Then Peter came to Him and said, “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

This passage of scripture is world famous for being used to make Christians forgive others unconditionally, even if it is at personal expense. Jesus said so, so you must do it. Yes, but beloved, the passage is not over. We need to read on to understand the context of what Jesus is saying.

“The kingdom of God is like a king who decided to square accounts with his servants. As he got under way, one servant was brought before him who had run up a debt of a hundred thousand dollars. He couldn’t pay up, so the king ordered the man, along with his wife, children, and goods, to be auctioned off at the slave market.
“The poor wretch threw himself at the king’s feet and begged, ‘Give me a chance and I’ll pay it all back.’ Touched by his plea, the king let him off, erasing the debt.
“The servant was no sooner out of the room when he came upon one of his fellow servants who owed him ten dollars. He seized him by the throat and demanded, ‘Pay up. Now!’
“The poor wretch threw himself down and begged, ‘Give me a chance and I’ll pay it all back.’ But he wouldn’t do it. He had him arrested and put in jail until the debt was paid. When the other servants saw this going on, they were outraged and brought a detailed report to the king.
“The king summoned the man and said, ‘You evil servant! I forgave your entire debt when you begged me for mercy. Shouldn’t you be compelled to be merciful to your fellow servant who asked for mercy?’ The king was furious and put the screws to the man until he paid back his entire debt. And that’s exactly what my Father in heaven is going to do to each one of you who doesn’t forgive unconditionally anyone who asks for mercy.” Matthew 18:23-35 [MSG]

The servant asked for mercy, and was given mercy. So in like fashion, he should have exercised mercy and forgiven the one who owed him a debt. And Jesus confirms this interpretation by telling us that we should forgive unconditionally anyone who asks for mercy. Indeed, it is written.

“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” Colossians 3:13 [NIV]

But beloved, did you notice that forgiveness is extended only to those who ask?

Now this is not our Father trying to be haughty. Neither is He trying to teach us to be selective. But we need to realize that just like the forgiveness of the older sibling meant nothing to the younger sibling in the story that we started this message with, forgiveness will mean nothing to the recipient if he is not ready for it. So beloved, forgiveness is a process.

To be able to receive forgiveness, to have it truly mean something to you, you need to first want it. That is why there is a need for the act of asking. If you do not ask, we can safely assume, you do not want it. Now, for you to want it, you must feel like you have done something wrong. If you feel like you have not wronged anyone, you will not feel like you need to be forgiven, and you surely will not ask for forgiveness. True? So the asking is not an obstacle between you and our Father’s forgiveness. It is part of the process of you realizing the mistake and then wanting to be forgiven. For remember that John tells us,

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9

Indeed, if we are able to freely admit that we have sinned and confess our sins, it certainly shows that we feel we have wronged our Father. So when we feel that we have wronged our Father, He is faithful and just, true to His own nature and promises, and will forgive our sins, dismiss our lawlessness and continuously cleanse us from all unrighteousness, removing everything that is not in conformity to His will in purpose, thought, and action. (1 John 1:9)

Because Jesus Himself did this,

“Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” Matthew 26:27-28

But even here, do you realize that in order to partake of His gift of forgiveness, there must be a willingness, and this willingness must translate into the act of reaching out, taking and consuming the cup? Yes, beloved, forgiveness is a process. Not because God wants to make it difficult; but because it would lose its meaning if it was not so.

But what happens if you really want it? Beloved, then you shall have it. For Jesus Himself said,

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.” Revelation 3:20

“And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.” John 14:13-14

And this includes forgiveness? Beloved, this started with forgiveness. Forgiveness is the first gift that Jesus came to bring. For the apostle Paul reminds us,

“For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” 2 Corinthians 5:21

So therefore,

“He who did not spare His own son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him, also freely give us all things?” Romans 8:32

But what if I can’t bring myself to mouth the words because I feel so guilty? Well beloved, here are some case studies.

“Then He turned to the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has washed My feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head. You gave Me no kiss, but this woman has not ceased to kiss My feet since the time I came in. You did not anoint My head with oil, but this woman has anointed My feet with fragrant oil. Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.”
Then He said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”” Luke 7:44-48

“Then He said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.” Luke 7:50

She did not have to utter a single word in that entire episode, yet Jesus knew exactly what she needed, and He forgave her.

But you think that your sin is public, you cannot be forgiven because everyone knows about your sin; then beloved, do you remember the woman caught in adultery?

“When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?”
She said, “No one, Lord.”
And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.” John 8:10-11

Again, there was no need for her to ask. Jesus knew what she needed, He forgave her.

But Jesus is too busy for an insignificant minion like me. Well, beloved, remember Zacchaeus? The one so short, he needed to climb a tree for Jesus to see Him?

“And when Jesus came to the place, He looked up and saw him, and said to him, “Zacchaeus, make haste and come down, for today I must stay at your house.” So he made haste and came down, and received Him joyfully. But when they saw it, they all complained, saying, “He has gone to be a guest with a man who is a sinner.”
Then Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord, I give half of my goods to the poor; and if I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore fourfold.”
And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham;” Luke 19:5-9

Jesus did not even need to utter any words of forgiveness. Zacchaeus’ heart was changed the minute he received Jesus joyfully.

Beloved, yes, forgiveness is a process; a process that was started by our Father and Jesus.

“for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” Luke 19:10

And this process was completed when Jesus died on the cross.

“Surely He has borne our griefs (sicknesses, weaknesses, and distresses) and carried our sorrows and pains [of punishment], yet we [ignorantly] considered Him stricken, smitten, and afflicted by God [as if with leprosy].
But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our guilt and iniquities; the chastisement [needful to obtain] peace and well-being for us was upon Him, and with the stripes [that wounded] Him we are healed and made whole.” Isaiah 53:4-5 [AMPC]


“…now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation,” Ephesians 2:13-14

And your part is just to respond and receive. And if you have not received this gift of salvation that Jesus came to bring and would like to receive it now, then say this prayer with me.

“Heavenly Father, thank You for loving me so much that You would send Your Son, Your only Son, the Son whom You love, to die on the cross for me. Thank You that whilst I was still unworthy, Jesus completed the process of my forgiveness and perfected my salvation; so that now, I can receive full remission of sins because of the blood of Jesus which was shed for the remission of sins. I can now receive health and wholeness in my body because Jesus’ body was broken on the cross in my place. Thank You Jesus for giving me what was rightfully Yours and taking what was rightfully mine, so that I can now stand boldly in front of our Father knowing that I am right and well-pleasing to Him. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”

Beloved, you have completed your end of the forgiveness process. So start enjoying the abundant life that Jesus came to give you.

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