We have all been wronged by someone at some time. We will more than likely be wronged by someone again some time in the future. On the flipside, we have all wronged someone else, too, and probably will again before we leave this earth. We are not perfect creatures--far from it, actually. We live in a world of sin; therefore, we will not always do good. Do we wrong people on purpose? Some people do, of course, but most of the time, people don't do it purposefully. I know I don't intentionally do wrong to others, but sometimes it comes across that way.
In Matthew 18: 21-35, Peter asks Jesus how many times we should forgive people. In response, Jesus tells a story of a master who mercifully wiped away the debt of his servant and let him go without paying what he owed his master. Later, the same servant, who had been forgiven of his debt, found a fellow servant who owed him money. The fellow servant begged the man to be patient with him and he would eventually pay him back, but the servant refused and threw his neighbor into jail. When the master heard about what his servant did after the master had forgiven him of his debt, he called the servant wicked because he showed no mercy on a man who owed him money, when his own debt was cancelled for him. Consequently, the master threw the servant into jail to be tortured until he could pay back his debt.
No one owes us anything. If we go through life and relationships with expectations, we will continually feel let down and wronged because no one can live up to others' expectations all the time. But, if we enter relationships with a merciful spirit and with the knowledge that Jesus paid our ultimate debt on the cross, then we will view people's actions much differently. We must treat people as if they're on our team and not against us, even if we feel that they have wronged us. Yes, people do it intentionally, but most of the time, they don't mean to; they don't do it maliciously. Even if they do wrong us intentionally, their debt is not ours to pay. Their sins are against God, not us. He will take care of their wrongs. Our only job is to do what Jesus commands us in Matthew when He says to not only forgive our brothers and sisters seven times, but seventy-seven times, or as many times as necessary. In reference to the master throwing the servant into jail to be tortured, Jesus says, " 'This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart' " (Matthew 18:35).
Until Jesus returns, people will continue to sin. The two things we need to know about this fact is that, first and foremost, "our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms" (Ephesians 6:12). When we don't forgive others, Satan is winning the battle because we are fighting against each other. The other thing we need to know about the fact that people will continue to sin is that when it happens to us, we need to mercifully forgive the person(s) involved. It doesn't matter if we think they deserve our forgiveness or even whether they seek it. We didn't deserve Jesus's forgiveness, nor did we seek it, but He gave it freely. And not just freely, He gave it LOVINGLY. So, when we forgive our neighbors, our family members, friends, co-workers, and everyone else, we do it lovingly and not begrudgingly. We do it with the love of Christ.
I know that if the people in my life didn't forgive me, I wouldn't have any relationships. This is my prayer for my life, that it would be marked by forgiveness and mercy. People don't realize what they are doing, the true impact of their sin, or even the need for a Savior. That's why it is so important for us to continually show God's love and mercy and pour it out on everyone around us....they desperately need to see it in action!