Preface: The heart of this covenant is our Lord’s steadfast, faithful love, a love at times even equated with the covenants themselves (see Deut. 7:9; 1 Kings 8:23; Dan. 9:4). As part of that covenant, God calls His to obey His law, not as a means of salvation, but as the fruit of it. Thus, law and grace together have always been central to God’s eternal covenant.
No matter how hard we fall, God’s forgiveness is like His love, a free and gracious gift. It is already promised to us and all we must do to receive it, is ask for it and accept it. “There is forgiveness with Thee” (Ps. 130:4, KJV). “With the Lord is unfailing love and with Him is full redemption” (verse 7, NIV).We do not deserve to be forgiven for our actions. This is also true for the unforgiving servant in this lesson’s parable. He received pardon yet did not show mercy to one who needed his forgiveness. But “Jesus has purchased redemption for us.”1 “It is ours . . . if we will prove worthy of eternal life.”2 We prove worthy by living a life controlled by God and showing His love and forgiveness to others.
“How often is Christ disappointed in those who profess to be His children. He has given them unmistakeable evidences of His love. He became poor, that through His poverty we might be made rich. He died for us, that we might not perish, but have eternal life.”3
God’s forgiveness is most evident in the love and the gracious sacrifice that His Son, Jesus, gave—His death on the cross. Even now, after His death and resurrection, Jesus feels so much love for the entire human race that He intercedes for us with God.
I was once asked, “Is love a feeling?” For all the sins that we have committed against the principles and laws of God, I have to believe that Jesus’ love must be a feeling. If He had not a feeling of compassion for us, He would not have forgiven the things we did against Him.
The difference between our forgiving and Divine forgiveness is the Lord. Because He is our example, we should therefore forgive as He forgave. For He forgave us many times, many more than seventy times seven. If we do not accept God’s love and forgive as He forgave, we do not “Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment!” (James 2:12, 13).
A connection with Christ is not just a behavior toward Him, but it is a relationship of being dependent on Him. If we have this relationship with Christ, we will be guided by the Holy Spirit to forgive from our hearts. The power and strength in God’s Spirit is enough to allow us to show, sometimes without knowing and with humility, Christ’s tender mercies and loving forgiveness to each one we contact.
1. Ellen G. White, Testimonies for the Church, vol. 1, p. 198.
2. Ibid., p. 199.
3. Ibid., vol. 3, p. 525.