Unforgiveness: The most arrogant sin

Trey gets born again. He finds glorious salvation in Yeshua.His sins are forgiven—every last one of them, gone! He is delighted—he is free. He tells everyone how gracious God has been to him. Over the next months and years, he grows in his faith. He even begins to teach in his congregation. And then, one day, he bumps into Rick, an old acquaintance. They were friends in college.  That is, until Rick hit Trey’s car with his. To make matters worse, he fled. Some bystanders saw it and told Trey. But Rick denied it. It was never resolved and Trey had not seen Rick since college.

Trey could feel the tension building up. He had never gotten over it. Trey could sense his heart begin to tighten. Rick owes me!At the same time, he could feel his joy begin to dissipate. Trey has made his choice: He will not forgive Rick.

20,000 Years vs. 3 Months!

Yeshua, Himself, tells a story similar to the one above. In Matthew 18, He speaks of a king who was owed a great sum of money—1,000 talents or 20,000 years worth of wages! When the servant who owed him could not pay, the king threatened to sell him and his family. The man begged for mercy. The king was moved with compassion and forgave him.

Delighted, he leaves the king, only to run into a fellow that owed him about three months wages. He seized the man and had him thrown into prison.

When the king was made aware of this, he was incredulous. He took the man who owed him 1,000 talents and had him thrown into jail. Yeshua closes with these words:

“So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.” (Matt. 18:35)

Do the Math

Why is unforgiveness the most hideous sin? It is really quite simple. How many sins has God forgiven in your life? It could be compared to 20,000 years of wages. And, then, add up how many times any one person has sinned against you—maximum three months of wages. When we focus on how much we have been forgiven—of every sin, every day (in my case for 53 years)—it is hard to hold something against someone else. Their sin against me is small, in comparison to my sin against God.

One of the reasons that we tend, in spite of being forgiven, to not forgive others, is that we don’t believe that our sin hurts God the way that we are hurt when others sin against us. Indeed, God doesn’t sit around personally offended, feeling sorry for HImself and angry over someone’s sin. And no one can abuse God. I am thinking of those who have suffered sexual or verbal abuse. But make no mistake, our sin bothers God. Our sin hurts God. It is sin, that has separated us from God. (Is. 59:2) Just think, because of our sin, Yeshua had to leave the courts of heaven, humble Himself as a man, and then allow sinful men to torture and crucify Him. Our sin caused Yeshua—who had never known separation from the Father, to be separated from him. Our sin cost God something!

Severe Penalty

And God absolutely expects us to forgive. There are consequences for believers who receive forgiveness but refuse to extend it. It is a central tenet in the Lord’s Prayer.

“…and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” (Matt. 6:12)

Before Yeshua finishes teaching us how to pray, He adds this:

For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. (Matt. 6:14-15)

And then there are Yeshua’s closing words from the parable in Matthew 18:

“So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.” (Matt. 18:35)

Whoa! God seems to make forgiving a prerequisite to being born again. It only makes sense—how can we receive 20,000 years wagesworth of forgiveness and not be willing to grant three months wages worth of forgiveness to others? At the very least, this passage means that, even if we are saved, we will not be able to enjoy the gladness of salvation or the joy of being forgiven, unless we forgive others. How can we rejoice in being forgiven while we hold others in prison?

In the end, when we don’t forgive, it is only us that remain stuck in prison.

Big Deal to God!

This issue is so important to God, that He includes in the six-part prayer that we are to pray every day (Matt. 6:9-13). Every morning we should be confessing forgiveness over those who have sinned against us and even over those who will in the future.

Footnote: I know that for those who’ve suffered chronic abuse—especially sexual abuse—the journey to forgiveness is not so simple as reading a blog. It may take a professional counselor to help you work through the hurt and pain or supernatural deliverance. If that is you, please take the step to get help so you can be fully whole. Once you can forgive, then you can be healed and your tormentor will no longer have any power over you.

This article originally appeared on Messiah’s Mandate, September 13, 2018, and reposted with permission.