Forgiveness Is Not Optional

Forgiveness Is Not Optional

Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.
–Ephesians 4:32

If you really understand grace, you will understand that forgiveness is not optional; it is a requirement for every Christian. Jesus said this clearly in Matthew 6:14-15: “If you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.”

There is an inseparable link between God’s willingness to forgive us and our willingness to forgive other people. You see that link in a parable Jesus told in Matthew 18. In this story, a king was having some cash-flow problems, so he called in a slave who owed him 10,000 talents. This was an astronomical amount of money. The king said, “Pay up, or I am going to sell you and your family and everything you have.” The slave said, “Please have mercy on me, and I will repay you!” How in the world would a lowly slave ever repay that kind of debt? But the king, having mercy on him, forgave him of his debt.

As the slave left the palace, he remembered a fellow slave who owed him a hundred denarii. A denarius was a day’s wages, so this was a significant debt–though it was a pittance compared to the debt of which he had just been forgiven. He found that other slave and began to choke him, demanding repayment. The man begged, “Have mercy on me!” but the first slave threw him into prison. When the king heard about this, he called the first slave in and said, “How could you who have been forgiven so much refuse to forgive your fellow slave?” The king was so angry, he had the slave thrown into prison until he repaid everything. Then Jesus added this zinger: “My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart” (v. 35).

Now, Jesus was not denying that other people have hurt us. He was not asking you to sweep the hurt you have experienced under the rug. Acknowledge that somebody has wronged you, but keep that hurt in perspective. Because the difference between how much that other person has hurt you and how much you have hurt the King is the difference between a few months’ wages and Jeff Bezos’s bank account. Only when you understand the great debt of which God has forgiven you are you willing to forgive others who owe you for what they have done. Good grace affirms the necessity of forgiveness.


Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Good-Grace Decision-Making” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2020.

Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved.