By Pastor John Mateos Ong and Pastora Monique Lopez Ong
“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. Therefore the kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. And when he had begun to settle accounts, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. But as he was not able to pay, his master commanded that he be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and that payment be made. The servant therefore fell down before him, saying, ‘Master, have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt. “But that servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and he laid hands on him and took him by the throat, saying, ‘Pay me what you owe!’ So his fellow servant fell down at his feet and begged him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ And he would not, but went and threw him into prison till he should pay the debt. So when his fellow servants saw what had been done, they were very grieved, and came and told their master all that had been done. 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.”
Is it easy to forgive people?
No. Especially when you are at the hurting end. But the good news is, if you have Jesus, He gives you the opportunity to walk through this and you will be able to do it because He has given you the gift of forgiveness. Saying sorry says a lot about a person. The world says you are weak if you do. But God says otherwise.
When Peter asked Jesus how many times he should forgive, he was somewhat proud because he felt that forgiving seven times is already a big deal. But Jesus quickly rebuked him and told him he should forgive 70x7 times. Jesus was not asking to do the math. 7, which is the number of completion, even if you multiply it by 10 and multiply it again with another perfect number which is 7, that is the amount. Jesus is simply saying that you should forgive an infinite number of times, as many times as a person can sin is how many times you should forgive.
-Peter asked how many times he should forgive.
-Jesus said 70x7 times.
-There was a servant who owed the king 10,000 talents, the equivalent to 155 thousand years of wages.
-The servant could not pay.
-The loan included all of his family.
-The servant begged.
-His debt was forgiven.
-A fellow servant owed him 100 denarii.
-He threw him in jail until he could pay.
-The king got mad and tortured the servant who would not forgive his fellow servant.
The representation of the king is God Himself. God is showing you that you are so sinful and yet, He is willing to forgive all your sins. Human beings carry grudges left and right, seeing people for the sins that they committed rather than the good things that they did. They forget that God could easily point out to them and say, “You are worse than that and I forgave you.”
What is forgiveness?
Forgiveness is often understood as an act of unselfish, unconditional love; an act in which we learn to “forgive and forget”, maybe even to “turn the other cheek.” Every time you forgive, it is not about you being able to seek revenge first, but remembering what Jesus did on the cross for you. Forgiving is an act of love. It is not forgetting evil acts nor condoning the offense, sin or hatred, but is a journey, path or way of being in the world. It has many stages representing stepping stones that are perpetual and understanding. You must continuously forgive because if you do not, you will become a prisoner of your own unforgiveness. There is so much weight on your shoulders and you forget that you are carrying the burden of all of that. God said, “Cast your burdens upon me.” You think that what you should cast unto Him is work and problems and all the things you do not like. But no. You should release the things you hold onto so much, like anger and unforgiveness. Do not savor them until they eat you up.
So God will forgive you too. (Matthew 6:14-15) This is an act of obedience to God’s command of forgiveness. If you do not obey, then you are closing the door to God’s blessings too. And when this door is closed, it will be difficult to experience the peace and joy of the Lord and it will also be difficult for you to trust people.
So you do not give the enemy legal ground. (Matthew 18:34-35) To be delivered from something indicates a legal transaction. The master was angry because the servant did not forgive his brother. Because of that, God delivered the person, made a legal transaction and allowed him to fulfill a legal obligation which is to go with the torturers. When you do not forgive, you are opening the door for the enemy to step into your life to kill, steal and destroy. Just like when a married couple are fighting and they go to bed angry at each other is like going to sleep with the front doors and gate wide open, ready for robbers and thieves to come in. When you forgive and the contract is met, then you are free from any and all tormentation.
You stop the slide to unforgiveness. (Matthew 6:14-15) You are unaware that if you do not let go and forgive, you go into a deeper, darker and more tormenting situation. There is a slippery slope that contains 7 stages in forgiveness:
Unforgiveness- to harbor ill feelings towards a person for their hurtful attitudes and actions
Anger - to feel displeasure, hostility and antagonism ; to harbor strong negative feelings
Bitterness - to have sharp, negative emotions; cynicism; to be harsh, callous and untrusting
Slander - to communicate, defame and damage another person’s reputation; gossip and rumor
Resentment - to have a deep-seated critical attitude towards a person; to repeatedly rehearse past offenses
Hatred - to dislike intensely or passionately; to feel extreme hostility; to detest; to avoid contact
Vengeance - to desire to get even; to inflict harm and humiliation; to inflict punishment; require retribution
If you see yourself in any of these steps, you have to turn away because you might take things into your own hands and not see what the enemy can do because you already let him get a hold of your life.
When you forgive, you release yourself. You think you hold onto a person by not forgiving them when in fact, you are your own prisoner. Suzanne Summer once said, “Forgiveness is a gift you give yourself.”
How can you forgive?
1. Commit to forgive.
Open your heart. Ask God to do the work.
2. Release forgiveness.
Extend compassion to those who hurt you. Put yourself in their shoes. Practice empathy. Hurt people hurt people. Then you will have compassion and mercy.
Release the person from your heart prison.When you do not forgive a person, they are prisoners in your heart prison. Release them in Jesus’ name.
Forgive each hurt one at a time. Say it out loud. There is power in confession.
Bless and do good to the person. If you have really forgiven, you act first and then your emotions will follow. Bless them and do good to them.
Luke 17:1-4 says, “It is impossible that no offenses should come, but woe to him through whom they do come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones. 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. And the apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith.””
Jesus is getting you ready by telling you this. People will offend you whether you like it or not. You have the freedom to forgive them or to hold on to the sins committed towards you. No matter how many times a person sins,you have to forgive them because Jesus said so And He does the same for you.
Forgiveness is not easy. It is to die to your flesh. It hits your pride and your ego. God is not happy when you are proud. He cannot bless you because of that. Is there a person you must forgive right now? It is a gift for you and me. If you forgive, God will forgive you too. Now is the time. Forgive.