Jesus gave several parables involving human relationships that are important in gospel living. The Lord often asked his followers to control anger, jealousy and forgive others. One classic story is that of the unforgiving servant that Jesus related following Peter’s question on how often he should forgive. The parable of the importance of forgiveness then followed the Savior’s answer to Peter.
“Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.
Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants.
And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents.
But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made. The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt. But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellowservants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest. And his fellowservant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt. So when his fellowservants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done. Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me: Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee? And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him. So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.” (Matthew 18: 21-35 in the Bible)
The Savior Requires Us to Forgive All
Those who wish to consider themselves as disciples of the Master must understand that we, like the first servant, owe a great debt to our Heavenly King for the many gifts and blessings we have received from Him. This understanding unlocks the door to the gifts of repentance and our own forgiveness. The retention of these gifts depends upon our faithful forgiveness of those who have offended us. The Savior said, “Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy” (Matthew 5: 7 in the Bible) and, “With what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged” (Matthew 7: 2 in the Bible). Jesus taught us in the Lord’s Prayer, “And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” (Matthew 6:14–15 in the Bible) The Savior also revealed, “My disciples, in days of old, sought occasion against one another and forgave not one another in their hearts; and for this evil they were afflicted and sorely chastened. Wherefore, I say unto you, that ye ought to forgive one another; for he that forgiveth not his brother his trespasses standeth condemned before the Lord; for there remaineth in him the greater sin. I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men.” (Doctrine & Covenants 64: 8-10)
“And ye shall also forgive one another your trespasses; for verily I say unto you, he that forgiveth not his neighbor’s trespasses when he says that he repents, the same hath brought himself under condemnation.”
(Mosiah 26: 31 in the Book of Mormon)
When the Savior was on the cross He asked his Father to forgive, those who persecuted and crucified him. Is there a greater example of forgiveness? Should we not follow His example?
When We Forgive, We Do Not Need to Condone the Actions Against Us
Forgiving others does not mean that we would endorse or approve of the behavior or transgression. In fact, there are many actions and attitudes that deserve clear condemnation. We can guard against being taken advantage of or hurt in the future. But even in these we must completely forgive the offender.
Forgiveness Brings Peace
The importance of forgiveness is that it brings peace to the previously anxious, restless, frustrated, perhaps tormented soul that finally forgives another. It is the Savior’s desire that we each feel His peace. He said: “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you. … ” (John 14:27 in the Bible). Forgiveness brings that peace into our hearts. “Forgive, and ye shall be forgiven” (Luke 6: 37 in the Bible).
Dallas Jones is the local leader for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Some of the Article came from Cecil O. Samuelson Jr. Ensign February 2003. Any questions on this parable call (231) 383-8359 or send an email [email protected].