Forgiveness is at the heart of all we stand for.
When you were baptised, it was for the forgiveness of your sins. In that watery grave the sinner in you died and you were raised clothed in Christ—sinless! Unwashed, you were condemned. Washed, you were forgiven for eternity. Praise God!
We must never look back on our pre-baptism life with anything other than disgust. Mired in our sin we stood guilty before God. But God was gracious toward us and revealed the salvation of His Son. “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21).
Thus, we rejoice daily to live in this state of divine forgiveness. Therein we are eager to forgive each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven us (Ephesians 4:32).
However, this doesn’t come without massive challenges. We are like the servant in Jesus’s story (Matthew 18:21-35) who was forgiven the fortune he owed to the King but wouldn’t forgive the pittance owed to him by his fellow servant. The King, angry with his hardness of heart, had him rearrested and tortured until he had paid the fortune back. And lest we miss the point of Jesus’ story, he added: “My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart” (Matthew 18:35).
Jesus has no interest in watching Christians sitting around discussing the vicissitudes of forgiveness. Jesus did not stop to ponder how many men would be thankful for his sacrifice before he went to the cross. What he did do was tell us plainly that our ultimate forgiveness is based on how we forgive others today:
“For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions” (Matthew 6:14-15).