Thoughts on Forgiveness

The parable on forgiveness in Matthew 18:21-35 ends with the stark warning: “And so will my heavenly Father do to you if you do not forgive from the heart.” Matthew Henry says regarding this passage, that it is not as if unforgiving people lose their salvation, for “those who do not forgive their brother’s trespasses, did never truly repent of their own, and therefore that which is taken away is only what they seemed to have.”

Although the Christian cannot refuse forgiveness, nor take revenge, Scripture does lay down a stipulation. John R. W. Stott says, “We are not permitted to cheapen forgiveness by offering it prematurely when there has been no repentance. ‘If your brother sins,’ Jesus said, ‘rebuke him,’ and only then ‘if he repents, forgive him’ (Luke 17:3).”

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