God sent his Son to pay a debt that man could not and cannot pay — the debt of sin.
By the shedding of his blood at Calvary, Christ opened the way of salvation to all the obedient (Heb. 5:8,9). The forgiveness offered by God is for all men who will obey God’s will. It has been and is his desire for all men to be saved (I Tim. 2:4).
Christians can know the joy and peace of being forgiven of all their sins. As Paul told the saints at Rome, we too are debtors to mankind. “I am debtor both to the Greeks, and to the Barbarians; both to the wise, and to the unwise. So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also” (Rom. 1:14,15). Telling all men about Christ and the blessing of forgiveness must be part of our Christian life.
Knowing this forgiveness and understanding the way it came about through God’s plan, and Christ’s willingness to give himself for man, should inspire us to live as Christ lived. The love that God showed to us should show in our relationship to others. We need to stand ready to forgive even as God has forgiven us.
Jesus taught this while on the earth. Notice the following parable taught by Jesus: “Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven” (Matt. 18:21 ff). What a marvelous lesson on forgiveness taught by the Lord.
This great lesson is one some find hard to put into practice. Patience and understanding go hand in hand with learning to forgive others. They may not always live up to our expectations, but our expectations may be higher than God’s may.
Paul in the Ephesian letter expressed the character and temperament that Christians should use with each other. “I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love;” … “And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you” (Eph. 4:1,2,30-32).
He also told the Galatians to “restore in a spirit of meekness; considering thyself…” (Gal.6:1).
Christians need to make sure that they work on their faith every day. Peter wrote, “And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Forgiveness is for everyone. God offers forgiveness to all who will obey him. And just as God stands ready to forgive so must we who are Christians stand ready to forgive others. Look at the words of our Lord as recorded in verse 35 of our text, “So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not everyone his brother their trespasses.”
This should serve as a warning to all who would fail to forgive others.