If we’re honest, we are always in need of forgivenes for something and we’re always in situations where we need to forgive others. Sadly we often fail in securing the first because we fail to show the second. Even a casual reading of our text shows that there is a connection between the two. Before you can enjoy forgiveness you have to extend it to others. Perhaps these words from John Henry Jowett will help us rethink the matter:
We are always inclined to set a limit to our moral obligations. We wish, as we say, “to draw a line somewhere.” We want to appoint a definite place where obligation ceases, and where the moral strain may be released. The Apostle Peter wished his Master to draw such a line in the matter of forgiveness. “Lord, how oft shall I forgive? Till seven times?” He wanted a tiny moral rule which he could apply to his brother’s conduct.
Not so the Lord. Our Master tells His disciple that in those spiritual realms relations are not governed by arithmetic. We cannot, by counting, measure off our obligations. Our repeated acts of forgiveness never bring us nearer to the freedom of revenge. No amount of sweetness will ever permit us to be bitter. We cannot, by being good, obtain a license to be evil. The fact of the matter is, if our goodness is of genuine quality, every act will more strongly dispose us to further goodness. It is the counterfeit element in our goodness that inclines us to the opposite camp. It is when our forgiveness is tainted that we anticipate the “sweetness” of revenge.