Forgiveness Comes From The Heart

When the other slaves saw what had taken place, they were deeply distressed and went and reported to their master everything that had happened. Then, after he had summoned him, his master said to him, ‘You wicked slave! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. Shouldn’t you also have had mercy on your fellow slave, as I had mercy on you?’ And his master got angry and handed him over to the jailers to be tortured until he could pay everything that was owed. So My heavenly Father will also do to you if each of you does not forgive his brother from his heart.”—Matthew 18:31-35 (HCSB) 

Have you ever seen an injustice occur? Maybe your heart started to pound faster than normal or your mind raced with ways to help the situation. This is the picture we see in the verse above.

In yesterday’s devotional of The Unforgiving Slave, we learned about the slave’s evil act of throwing his fellow slave into jail. Today, we see the consequence. A few slaves witnessed the injustice and were distressed. They didn’t step in and put up a fight, but they did what many of us have done in a time of need: run to someone in authority to set things straight.

The slaves had no shame in approaching their master. Jesus says they “went and reported to their master everything that had happened.” This is a subtle yet powerful reminder that we, too, ought to run to our Master without fear. We are invited to tell Him every detail with trust and confidence.

Another powerful picture being painted is the display of justice by the community of slaves in the face of a recognizable evil. Human nature has very present threads of both evil and justice running through it. While we cannot control our circumstances, we can control how we respond to them. It’s in our best interest to operate the way the community of slaves did when faced with evil: call it out and make it right, however possible.

When the master heard the account, he was rightfully furious. Just like the master, Jesus is full of mercy. But we often forget that Jesus is full of justice as well. We’ve been forgiven an immeasurable debt and are responsible to forgive in the same manner. We are a display of His character and when we mar that display, He doesn’t laugh it off. He is willing and able to dole out consequences. 

I love that Jesus says, “So My heavenly Father will also do to you if each of you does not forgive his brother,” and adds that forgiveness must come from the heart. There are only two people who can know the condition of the heart: the body surrounding it, and the God who created it. It’s important to be acutely aware of the condition of our hearts. Otherwise, we can trick ourselves into thinking we are in higher standing with God than we truly are.

Let us never forget to see His goodness in the midst of evil, His forgiveness in the midst of our sin, and His passion in the midst of injustice. 

DIG: Dwell on Colossians 3:13.

DISCOVER: What characteristic of God is He calling you to mirror? Is it His mercy? His forgiveness? His love? Only He can bring justice. Offer up your service to Him as He brings justice through both His divine plan and your actions.

DO: Practice wild forgiveness today. Practice it with everything you’ve got. Then, share God’s forgiveness with someone who crosses your path today.