Peter asked Jesus a question about forgiving others. After specifically answering Peter’s question, the Lord ended by sharing a parable concerning the importance of forgiveness.
Our verse for today concludes a story Jesus told about an unforgiving debtor. After we read it, we’ll look at how the conversation began with Peter’s question.
Then the angry king sent the man to prison to be tortured until he had paid his entire debt. Matthew 18:34
Peter asked Jesus, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me?” Then, he decided to answer his own question with what he thought was a very generous number.
Then Peter came to him and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?” “No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven! Matthew 18:21-22
So the Lord multiplied Peter’s number by seventy. Jesus wasn’t really telling him to count up to 490 times and then quit. No! He meant for him to just keep forgiving the person.
Parable of the Unforgiving Debtor
In His story, the Lord compared the Kingdom of Heaven to an earthly king. This king decided to bring his accounts up to date with servants who had borrowed money from him.
When he tallied the accounts, one of his debtors owed him millions. The king decided to take action against the man when he couldn’t pay his debt.
He couldn’t pay, so his master ordered that he be sold—along with his wife, his children, and everything he owned—to pay the debt. Matthew 18:25
The man with the huge debt fell down before his master and begged him. He asked him to give him some more time to pay it. In response, the king said the following.
Then his master was filled with pity for him, and he released him and forgave his debt. Matthew 18:27
He forgave him of a debt of millions of dollars! I’m sure that man left the king with his head up high and as happy as could be. As the story continued, though, he didn’t learn anything from it.
But when the man left the king, he went to a fellow servant who owed him a few thousand dollars. He grabbed him by the throat and demanded instant payment. Matthew 18:28
His fellow servant reacted in the same manner as he did. He fell down before him, begging him for more time with a promise to pay him. But the first man wouldn’t yield to his plea.
But his creditor wouldn’t wait. He had the man arrested and put in prison until the debt could be paid in full. Matthew 18:30
The Man Learned About the Importance of Forgiveness
The man forgiven of his million-dollar debt learned nothing about the importance of forgiveness. And when others saw what he did to his fellow servant, they reported it to the king.
Then the king called in the man he had forgiven and said, You evil servant! I forgave you that tremendous debt because you pleaded with me. Matthew 18:32
Because this man didn’t understand the importance of forgiving someone else, the king revoked his forgiveness.
This brings us back to our verse for today. Take a closer look at the message in that verse.
The king didn’t send him for rehabilitation to release him when he learned his lesson.
No! He sent him to be tortured until he repaid his entire debt. How could anyone work off a debt when continually subjected to torture? Jesus then applied this story to every Christian.
That’s what my heavenly Father will do to you if you refuse to forgive your brothers and sisters from your heart. Matthew 18:35
Have you ever heard someone say, “I’ll never forgive that person?” Hopefully, you don’t have feelings like that because those who feel that way don’t know the importance of forgiveness.
The Lord’s Prayer and the Importance of Forgiveness
In Matthew 6, the Lord taught His disciples how to pray. We call it the Lord’s prayer. We know it by heart and offer it to God word for word. It basically has five components.
- Worship our Father in Heaven,
- That our Father’s will be done
- Supply us with our needs
- Forgive us our sins as we forgive others
- Protect us from the temptation of the evil one.
But do you know which component Jesus taught about immediately after teaching them that prayer? He expounded on the importance of forgiveness.
If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins. Matthew 6:14-15
A few years ago, I sat at the bedside of a man close to going into eternity. As far as I knew, he was ready to meet Jesus. But he asked me how he could be sure he would go to heaven.
My answer consisted of two questions. First, I said, you have asked Jesus to forgive you, and you are saved, correct? He said yes.
Then I asked, are you harboring any unforgiveness towards anyone? I didn’t expect an answer from him. But I suggested that he pray and ask God to help him to search his heart.
Forgive Like Jesus Forgave
Jesus made it quite clear about the importance of forgiveness. He has offered forgiveness to all who call upon His name. A songwriter captured His teaching with the following words.
He paid a debt He did not owe.
I owed a debt I could not pay.
I needed someone to wash my sins away . . .
Christ Jesus paid the debt that I could never pay.
Do you want the Father to forgive you? Then call on Jesus and don’t harbor unforgiveness towards anybody. In other words, forgive others the same way the Lord has forgiven you.
Lord, help us to understand the importance of forgiveness. Sometimes, we get hurt pretty bad, but we have done hurtful things to you, and you’ve always forgiven us.
Check out these other posts related to forgiveness
- What’s The Best Way To Seek Forgiveness Of Sin?
- Seek Forgiveness Of Sins Through Prayer
- Will God Forgive Me If I Keep Sinning?
- If We Confess Our Sins
To receive each new devotional post delivered to your inbox, subscribe below by giving us your first name and email address.