“This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.” (Matt. 18:35)
Expanded Passage: Matthew 18:32-35
On a warm summer day as a kid, my younger brother and I were playing in our second-story bedroom while my parents were out in the backyard working. My brother did something to upset me, as younger siblings can do, so in a rage, I opened the window to the backyard and yelled to my parents, “Mom! Dad! Can I hit him?”
This may be a cute story, but don’t we sometimes act in a similar way as adults? Someone wrongs us and we feel compelled to exact punishment or revenge. This is what the forgiven servant did to his fellow servant. Jesus said, though, that forgiveness is a matter of the heart. Even though his own debt was forgiven, the first servant still carried a grudge in his heart. This infuriated the king, who then took back his original offer of debt forgiveness and threw the servant in jail to be tortured until he could repay his original debt. In the same way, Jesus taught that God’s anger will be evident to those who refuse to offer forgiveness.
In this parable, Jesus established a new moral standard based on his grace. When someone offers true repentance, the only acceptable response is true forgiveness from the heart. Just as God forgives us when we repent, we must also forgive our brothers or sisters when they repent.
Forgive others from the heart with God’s help.
Branden Petersen is the cofounder/pastor of Resurrection Life NYC in Manhattan with his wife, Jenn. He is also the founder and director of the urban church planting network, Global Cities Network.
© 2024 Wesleyan Publishing House. Reprinted from Light from the Word. Used by permission. Scriptures taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®.