Matthew 18:21-22 (NIV)—21) Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?” 22) Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” (In the NKJV-it says “seventy times seven.” It means the same thing but different translations sometimes say it a little different. It does not mean that they are translating them with different meanings— just in a little different manner—never let that deter you from believing that the Bible is all true).
We are to spread the Good News to the unsaved about Jesus so their sins might be forgiven, too. Only God can forgive people’s sins. They have to be believers in Christ to be forgiven by God.
Sometimes forgiving someone is hard to do. People tend to hurt us more than once. When someone hurts you and you forgive them, everything seems okay again. But then they turn around and hurt you again. It gets harder to forgive them, especially if it is the same thing over again. For example, you find out that the person starts a rumor about you. You forgive him because he said he would not do that again. Then that person turns around and starts another rumor about you. You talk to him about it and he says he is sorry. You forgive him again.
The thing is we have to forgive them even if they are not sorry for hurting us. That is the biggie! That is when we really need to trust and depend on God. Our righteousness must come from what God does in us, not what we can do by ourselves. We need to be God-centered, not self-centered. We must be based on reverence for God, not approval from people. This will release us from the sin of hate and bitterness in our soul and will free us from the bondage of unforgiveness. It takes a heavy weight off our shoulders. The pain we hold in ourselves also relieves the power that we give that person(s) to destroy our life. Satan loves to see us in bondage of unforgiveness—Do not give him that power. Forgiveness is a necessity for our well-being.
Jesus says you must forgive every time. A forgiving heart demonstrates our love for God and for our brother. He forgives us every time we ask Him, as long as we are sincerely sorry and repent.
(1John 4:20-21 (NIV)—20) If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. 21) And He has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.
If we treat others generously, graciously, and compassionately, these qualities will come back to us in full measure. Luke 6:37 (NIV) says …Forgive, and you will be forgiven; and Ephesians 4:32 (NIV) says—Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
Forgiveness is so important for our spiritual growth. If we harbor unforgiveness, we will not receive the power of the Lord in our life, nor be able to feel His presence. We will lose our closeness to God.
Read Matthew 5:20-25. This Scripture is about unforgiveness—we will be judged by God and we cannot enter the kingdom of heaven if we do not forgive those who we hold grudges, hatred, or unforgiveness toward. That is how important forgiveness is to God.
As Christ taught the law of forgiveness in the Gospels, we see it in the Lord’s Prayer—“Forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors.” (Matthew 6:12). God forgives us solely because of His great mercy, not because we deserved it. Having received His forgiveness, we will want to also forgive others.
If we don’t forgive them, God will not forgive them either. John 20:23 (NIV)—If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven. (I would not want to be the cause of someone else not to be forgiven, would you)?
Colossians 3:13 (NIV)—Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
Matthew 6:15 (NIV)—But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.