‘It is in pardoning that we are pardoned.’ – St Francis of Assisi.
Forgiveness is central to Christian spirituality and authentic discipleship. Forgiveness is the heart of missional engagement. Unforgiveness is a major Satanic enemy’s weapon to derail us from our Christian discipleship and witness. When we withhold forgiveness, we retain bitterness, damaging our relationship with God and man. Unforgiveness gives a false sense of power and control. Unforgiveness helps us make sense of horrible things that happen to us and never makes us find peace.
One day, Peter had had enough. He came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times? Jesus answered, ‘I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.'” (Matt. 18:21-22). Beloved, when you have had enough, who do you go to?
Peter’s question points to unforgiveness as a false sense of entitlement over others and an inroad to personal imprisonment. Jesus’ hyperbolic response of forgiveness as never-ending for His followers tells us we should genuinely forgive people. Let us remember Jesus had once taught his disciples, “If [your brother] sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, ‘I repent,’ forgive him” (Lk. 17:4). Peradventure, Peter was finished with forgiveness after being generous with allowing seven times for forgiveness in a day. Jesus’s answer to Peter and us today is that forgiveness as a kingdom currency must go much farther than seven times. Forgiveness is a kingdom currency, with no end to spreading.
Kingdom forgiveness is unlimited, just as we have before God Almighty. Jesus’ warning points us to the importance of genuine repentance. Jesus warns, “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart.” (Matthew 18:35). The problem with forgiveness today, even in the church, is only about forgiveness with our lips. Kingdom and genuine forgiveness are ‘from the heart.’
There is no currency scarcity of Naira, Pounds, and Dollars but currency of genuine forgiveness. Forgiveness from the heart heals relationships, church, and nations. It is forgiveness that makes a healthy church. It is forgiveness that enhances discipleship, mission, and evangelism. The scarcity of forgiveness currency is the foundational bane of the breaking of homes, church decline, and wars among nations. Just as pain is the consequence of sin, the currency of forgiveness heals. The currency of forgiveness is found the moment you understand how much you have been forgiven.
Forgiveness is the kingdom’s daily currency that pays for the love we need to be healthy, grow, and evangelize the world. The doctrines and theology of forgiveness and reconciliation are strategic to the church’s understanding of grace and humility. Its neglect to put them in practice hinders scriptural understanding of the grace of Jesus Christ but spread a famine of God’s word. Medically, the act of forgiveness lowers the risk of heart attack, improves cholesterol levels and sleep, and reduces pain, blood pressure, and levels of anxiety, depression, and stress.
In the parable of the unforgiving servant, Jesus teaches that God’s forgiveness, though freely given to those who confess and turn from their sin, still depends on everyone’s willingness to forgive others. You can only give what you have. Jesus’ teaching warns us that a person may lose the currency, that is, the chance to be forgiven for their sins by God, if he or she holds on to a bitter, resentful, and unforgiving heart.
To receive forgiveness from God requires humility, admission of guilt, and a willingness to change. Sadly, many people are engulfed with pride and unwilling to adopt this humble attitude. Hence, they cannot receive forgiveness from Jesus Christ. Holding on to unforgiveness is a sin because of the bitterness and destruction it can bring in one’s spirit and because it fails to reflect God’s character in our lives, nations, and churches.
The parable of the unforgiving servant tells us that unforgiveness is intensely selfish. The first servant whose Master forgave an unpayable debt did not show his fellow servant mercy. He ultimately bore the punishment of his original debt. Beloved, stop drinking the poison of unforgiveness. There is power in the currency and the spiritual power of forgiveness. When you realize the depth to which God has forgiven you, you will arise to spread and spend the currency of unlimited forgiveness, a spiritual global legal tender.