Variations of the phrase, “It’s fine!” can often be heard during situations of forgiveness. These phrases should be avoided because truly being hurt by others isn’t okay. However, being hurt doesn’t justify revenge because hurting others also isn’t right. Therefore, dissolution and forgiveness are the two best conclusions for a relationship when a wrong has been committed. God’s children are taught to forgive others because He has forgiven them. Ephesians 4:31-32 (ESV) reads, ”Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”
In Matthew 18:21-34, Jesus tells the parable of the unforgiving servant to explain righteous forgiveness to God’s children. In the parable, a servant is in 10,000 talents of debt to his lord.[i] Since the servant couldn’t pay the debt, the lord was going to sell the servant, his family, and all he owned as compensation. After hearing this, the servant pleaded for forgiveness. In response, the lord decided to forgive the debt and sent the servant on his way. Then the servant went out, found someone who owed him 100 denarii[ii], and began choking his debtor while demanding payment. When the servant’s debtor pleaded for forgiveness, he refused and sent the man to prison. After the lord heard of the altercation, he said to the servant, “You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?” Therefore in his anger, the lord disciplined his servant by sending him to jail as well.
Jesus uses this parable to describe the exorbitant amount of debt our sin incurs with God. As mankind’s merciful Lord in Heaven, He shed Jesus’ blood on the cross to give us the opportunity to be forgiven of our debt. After accepting God’s forgiveness through baptism, this parable teaches us to obey Him with the freedom He has given us. If God’s children go about their lives with the same attitude as before being forgiven, then they will face His discipline, similar to how the servant’s lord used imprisonment as retribution for his uncompassionate heart. Romans 12:16-19 says, “Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’” With God there is always hope for salvation, as there is a willingness to put in the effort to obey Him with a zeal like Jesus.