If you stop and really listen to a lot of modern day preachers, the issue of forgiveness is often presented from the perspective of what “unforgiveness” will do to you, if you allow this attitude to remain in your heart. This definitely a part of the equation, but it is not the totality of why we should forgive.

If we forgive for our sake only we are missing the weight of the teaching of scripture and we are making ourselves the priority.

The scriptural approach to forgiveness is first the fear of the Lord and secondly compassion on the other. Do you remember in the scripture when Jesus gave a parable about the servant who was forgiven much, and refused to forgive his fellow servant of little?

Here is what the scripture says:

Therefore the Kingdom of Heaven is like a certain king, who wanted to reconcile accounts with his servants. When he had begun to reconcile, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. But because he couldn’t pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, with his wife, his children, and all that he had, and payment to be made. The servant therefore fell down and kneeled before him, saying, ‘Lord, have patience with me, and I will repay you all!’ The lord of that servant, being moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt. “But that servant went out, and found one of his fellow servants, who owed him one hundred denarii, and he grabbed him, and took him by the throat, saying, ‘Pay me what you owe!’ “So his fellow servant fell down at his feet and begged him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will repay you!’ He would not, but went and cast him into prison, until he should pay back that which was due. So when his fellow servants saw what was done, they were exceedingly sorry, and came and told to their lord all that was done. Then his lord called him in, and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt, because you begged me. Shouldn’t you also have had mercy on your fellow servant, even as I had mercy on you?’ His lord was angry, and delivered him to the tormentors, until he should pay all that was due to him. So my heavenly Father will also do to you, if you don’t each forgive your brother from your hearts for his misdeeds” (Matthew 18:23-35).

According to this teaching by Jesus, the motive for forgiving others ought to come from of reverence for God and compassion for those who need forgiveness. In the verses above, the King had compassion on his servant who could not repay him and forgave his debt. The servant should have done likewise to his fellow servant, but when he chose not to do so, he angered the King. Jesus taught this to illustrate how God will respond to us, if we do not forgive others.

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