I have been thinking about the importance of forgiveness lately. I have been teaching a series on the Lord’s Prayer at New Creation, a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center in Tlacolula, Oaxaca, Mexico, every Monday afternoon. This last Monday we focused on the phrase, “Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.” Perhaps the most important part of the prayer since Jesus repeats the admonition, or petition, after he gives the prayer in Matthew 6:14.

There are many verses in the New Testament that are about God forgiving sins. If we confess our sins, God forgives us (1 John 1:9). We are forgiven through Jesus’ blood and the riches of God’s grace (Ephesians1:7). Repent of your wickedness that you may be forgiven (Acts 8:22). Jesus said, “This is my blood which is poured out for the forgiveness of sins (Matthew 26:28). But Jesus doesn’t focus on any of these aspects of forgiveness.

The thing most important to Jesus when it comes to being forgiven of our sins, debts, offenses and transgressions, is that we forgive others who have sinned against us or offended us (Mt.6:12).

Jesus tells a parable about this concept in Matthew 18:21-35. The parable of the unmerciful servant.

-Jesus tells us to forgive 77 times; never stop forgiving!

-In the Lord’s prayer, Jesus said that we should pray that God’s kingdom comes on earth as it is in heaven. Jesus says this parable is one aspect of the kingdom that we should practice.

-Jesus said a man owed ten thousand bags of gold, which is like a billion dollars.

-The master in this parable took pity on the servant and canceled the debt (27)

-The man who was forgiven the debt went to a fellow servant and demanded that he pay him a 100 silver coins, which is like is like $500. He couldn’t pay and was thrown into debtors prison. (28)

-The master found out and said to the servant, “You are a wicked servant. I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on fellow servant just as I had on you?” And in his anger the master handed him over to jailers to be tortured until he should pay back all he owed.

-In conclusion, Jesus tells his disciples that is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.

That seems pretty strict and severe, but Jesus makes it plain in the Lord’s prayer that we will not be forgiven unless we forgive, and in the parable of the unmerciful servant that we will be handed over to be tortured unless we forgive.

I have an idea – Let’s forgive!