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Forgive From Your Heart

Should not you also have had compassion on your fellow servant,
even as I had pity on you? And his lord was angry, and delivered
him to the jailers, till he should pay all that was due unto him. So
likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if you from
your hearts forgive not everyone his brother their trespasses.
(Matthew 18:33-35)

Here Jesus tells of a man who was forgiven a great debt by his master, but then refused to forgive another a much smaller debt they owed him. The master found out about the man's lack of mercy and had him jailed until the debt was paid in full.

Jesus was very clear: forgiveness is not just saying the words “I forgive you” or “I forgive them”. True forgiveness has to be more than mere words, it has to come from the heart. What does it mean to forgive someone from our heart?

That means not holding onto a grudge. Not keeping a mental list of all the things they've done. Not remembering past hurts when they hurt us again. Not telling others of the wrongs they've done – or telling of our own goodness in forgiving them! Forgiving with our heart means letting go of the past, completely; each time the devil brings it to our mind, firmly putting it in God's hands and leaving it there.

Can we truly say God is OUR heavenly Father, if we cannot forgive others as He has forgiven us? Notice that Christ says here, "My heavenly Father," not “your heavenly Father”. God is not our heavenly Father unless we are as willing to forgive others their trespasses as He is to forgive our own. This cannot be emphasized enough: God requires us to forgive others.

Forgiving from our heart benefits us, not necessarily them. Corrie Ten-Boom said “To forgive is to set a prisoner free, and discover that the prisoner was you!” The Bible has plenty to say about how forgiving others benefits us also:

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy" (Matthew 5:7)

"As you mete to others it shall be measured to you" (Matthew 7:2)

"Forgive us our trespasses even as we forgive those who trespass against us" (Matthew 6:12)

Be you therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful. Judge not, and you shall not be judged: condemn not, and you shall not be condemned: forgive, and you shall be forgiven: (Luke 6:36-37) "Whatsoever a man sows that shall he also reap" (Galatians 6:7)

Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, compassion, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do you. (Colossians 3:12-13)

What God commands us to do, He enables us to do. Maybe we cannot forgive from our heart in our own power, but by the power of the Holy Spirit we can. It is He that enables us to forgive. Even as He was being crucified on the cross, Jesus prayed “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34)

An unforgiving spirit is the spirit of perdition. If we are hard-hearted and unforgiving to our fellow-men, we can never expect our heavenly Father to overlook our own sins. It is a vital doctrine that we show mercy and forgiveness to those who have wronged us and hurt us, because God forgave us, through Jesus Christ. Love equals forgiveness, and forgiveness is love in action.

Love suffers long, and is kind; love envies not;
love vaunts not itself, is not puffed up, Does not
behave itself rudely, seeks not her own, is not
easily provoked, keeps no record of evil; Rejoices
not in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; Bears all
things, believes all things, hopes all things,
endures all things. (1 Corinthians13:4-5)


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