This chapter concludes with one of Christ’s most sobering lessons on forgiveness.  Peter, no doubt, thought he was being extremely magnanimous in suggesting he forgive his brother up to seven times.  But the Lord Jesus commands that we not stop at seven, but be willing to forgive up to 490 times; which, in reality, means that we never escape the obligation to forgive a brother who repents for his transgression, no matter how greatly they try our patience.

Christ enforces this command by the parable of the servant, who was forgiven an enormous debt by his lord, but proceeded to harangue and imprison a fellow servant who owed him but a trifling amount.  The picture is plainly that of a man professing to be forgiven by the grace of God, but he has no heart to forgive a fellow sinner.  However our friend or brother may have offended against us, it is in comparison as nothing compared to how we offended God.  Like the servant in the parable, we had accrued an enormous debt to divine justice which could never be paid off.  But we were frankly forgiven, for Christ’s sake.  Since, upon our begging for mercy, God was willing to forgive us and write off our debt, ought we not to be equally willing to forgive those who repent to us?  The punishment of those who make a pretense that they are forgiven by God, but have no heart to forgive a repenting brother, will surely be very harsh.

The lesson for us is very plain: We must learn, through the grace of God and by the strengthening power of His Spirit, to forgive from our hearts those who trespass against us.  We have no other choice, as the servants of Christ.  If we would imitate our Lord and God, then we must be willing to forgive, even as He has dealt with us.  “Lord, increase our faith!”

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