33 ‘Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?’ 34 And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him. 35 “So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.” (Matthew 18:33–35, NKJV)
Forgiveness does not necessarily come easy to us. Sure, we all want the mercy of forgiveness when we have sinned against someone. But, when the shoe is on the other foot, we are tempted with urges of pride, or anger, or vengeance or other sins that build barriers against showing mercy to those who hurt and harm us. In this parable (recorded in Matthew 18:21-35), Jesus make the unmistakable point that God will not forgive us if we refuse to forgive each other from the heart. Forgiveness requires humility, as well as an appreciation of the forgiveness we have received from the Lord. What a great way to be like our heavenly Father; to forgive others like He forgives us!
15 And the Lord God of their fathers sent warnings to them by His messengers, rising up early and sending them, because He had compassion on His people and on His dwelling place. 16 But they mocked the messengers of God, despised His words, and scoffed at His prophets, until the wrath of the Lord arose against His people, till there was no remedy. 17 Therefore He brought against them the king of the Chaldeans, who killed their young men with the sword in the house of their sanctuary, and had no compassion on young man or virgin, on the aged or the weak; He gave them all into his hand. (2 Chronicles 36:15–17, NKJV)
God’s compassion moved Him to warn Jerusalem and Judah of their sins. Early and often His servants, the prophets, spoke truth to a people who mocked them and refused God’s word. And so, God’s wrath fell upon Jerusalem and Judah by the hands of the Chaldeans (Babylonians). Now, by the gospel, God is calling sinners to repent and be saved from eternal wrath. Do not reject the gospel like Judah rejected the prophets. By despising God’s word, you are storing up wrath for yourself that will be unleashed without compassion on the day of judgment (Rom. 2:4-6). In Christ, God’s compassion is available now. Let God’s goodness lead you to repentance.
14 Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.” (Hebrews 4:14–15, NKJV)
The fact that our great High Priest is exalted in heaven does not isolate Him from our deep need for relief in our struggles against sin. Although exalted on high, the Son of God is not hindered from understanding our feelings when we are tempted. We are exhorted to “hold fast our confession” for this very reason – that He has constant compassion for our frailty. Jesus has been tempted as we are. While He withstood every enticement, he refused every temptation, He knows the inward struggle that takes place when temptation happens. He offers “grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:16). May His ready compassion and steady love compel us to hold fast our confession to resist temptation, instead of letting go and sinning against our Savior.
8 The Lord is gracious and full of compassion, slow to anger and great in mercy. 9 The Lord is good to all, and His tender mercies are over all His works. (Psalm 145:8–9, NKJV)
God embodies the fullness of grace, compassion and mercy. He is longsuffering toward sinners, for He wishes our salvation, not our eternal demise (2 Pet. 3:9; Ezek. 18:32; 1 Tim. 2:3-4). The goodness God shows us is evidence of His mercy, and is an incentive to repent of every sin we have committed against Him (Rom. 2:4). Do not take God’s “slowness to anger” as indifference, toleration or acceptance of sin; it is not. Instead, find His merciful grace through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ (Eph. 2:8-9). His anger is stirred by sin. When God’s righteous judgment comes, there will be no escape (Rom. 2:3-6). Praise God for His compassion and mercy. Honor Him for His goodness. Serve Him with a ready faith.
1 Lord, who may abide in Your tabernacle? Who may dwell in Your holy hill? … 5 “He who does not put out his money at usury, Nor does he take a bribe against the innocent. He who does these things shall never be moved.” (Psalm 15:1, 5, NKJV)
The righteous person’s values are as unshakable as is his devotion to have fellowship with the Lord God. He is compassionate, not covetous, and he honors justice. Unlike the modern sense of exorbitant interest, usury here is simply interest; the sum of money charged for a loan. The law of Moses prohibited charging interest to a brother and the poor among them (Exo. 22:25; Deut. 23:19-20). The one who abides in God’s presence lends without expectation of return (cf. Lk. 14:11-14). Neither does he profit at the expense of justice for the innocent. And so, mercy and justice are among the values recognized by God as worthy of His presence. In a world driven by greedy ambition, be careful to “do justly, love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8).
23 Therefore the kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24 And when he had begun to settle accounts, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. 25 But as he was not able to pay, his master commanded that he be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and that payment be made. 26 The servant therefore fell down before him, saying, ‘Master, have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ 27 Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt. (Matthew 18:23–27, NKJV)
No doubt, the king in this parable alludes to God Himself and each servant, a disciple of Christ (see Matt. 18:21-22). Jesus illustrates how we must forgive each us with compassion or “from the heart” (Matt. 18:33-35). In Christ, God forgives sinners compassionately and completely. This is our pattern to follow in forgiving others. Forgiveness is about releasing a person from a debt they owe. God forgives our debt of sin. We must not refuse to forgive those who have sinned against us. If we do, He will not forgive us (Matt. 18:35). Have compassion, and forgive one another.
3 He spoke this parable to them, saying: 4 “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? 5 And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. 6 And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’ 7 I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance. (Luke 15:3–7)
The Good Shepherd has compassion on every lost sheep. Like a shepherd who searches for the one lost sheep, Jesus searches for each lost soul. Furthermore, each soul is so precious that heaven responds with rejoicing when a single soul is saved. Never think you are worthless in God’s sight! He is full of compassion for you, and in love He sent His Son to save you from the wilderness of sin and death. Hear His voice and follow Him. Repent, and heaven will rejoice.