So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also to you, if you from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.
Upon his earnest petition, the man gains a full and free forgiveness; but the question arises - Did he deserve it? Was he in a state of mind fit to receive it? Was the forgiveness any real moral good to him? This is soon answered. The man, fresh from his great forgiveness, finds a fellow servant who owes him but a trifling sum, and his severity with him shows clearly enough that his heart was untouched. The unforgiving manifest that they are unfitted to receive God's forgiveness. The Christian limit of forgiveness is - Forgive your fellow men as freely and as fully as God has forgiven you. The Christian law of forgiveness is - Expect God to forgive you only when you are in such a penitent, humble, and sympathetic frame of mind that you can easily forgive your fellows.
I. SEE WHAT A MARVEL OF GRACE THAT DIVINE FORGIVENESS IS. Estimate it aright, and you will feel that there must be some preparedness for receiving such a blessing.
1. Think of the greatness of the sin to be forgiven us. Take Christ's figure of the immense debt. See sin as ingratitude; and as disobedience.
2. Think of the aggravations of sin. The witfulness of many sins. They are sins against light and knowledge. They are even committed after forgiveness.
3. Think what love is shown in the conditions of forgiveness. The objective ground of remission is the gift and sacrifice of God's well beloved Son.
4. Think of the freeness and fulness of God's forgiveness. There is no possibility of purchasing it; it must come to us as a gift of infinite love. It is no limited blessing. God blots out the record utterly, as a cloud is blotted from the sky, and flings our sins away into the depths of the sea.
II. SEE WHAT IS THE STATE OF MIND BEFITTING THE RECIPIENTS OF THE DIVINE FORGIVENESS. We can see plainly enough that the man introduced by our Lord was wholly unworthy of the forgiveness of that debt. It did him no sort of moral good. He was in no sense ready for the forgiveness. So there are many who cannot be forgiven because they are not in such moral states as would make forgiveness any blessing to them. A humbled, regretful, gracious spirit is necessary. Such a spirit would be tested at once by an opportunity of showing a forgiving mind. Tender, melted, kind. The feeling of being undeserving, unworthy. Christ's teaching on this point has even a severe side - even his forgiveness may be revoked, if he finds, by our behaviour after forgiveness, that we were morally unfitted to receive it. - R.T.
Parallel VersesKJV: So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.