I enjoy movies and television shows, especially ones that are original and present a storyline that is unique and different than what’s already been done. One story that I think Hollywood has overdone is the revenge plot. A recent example would be the John Wick trilogy. Google the synopsis of the series and you’ll find this:

Legendary assassin John Wick retired from his violent career after marrying the love of his life. Her sudden death leaves John in deep mourning. When sadistic mobster Iosef Tarasov and his thugs steal John’s prized car and kill the puppy that was a last gift from his wife, John unleashes the remorseless killing machine within and seeks vengeance.

We’ve all seen these types of movies; the main character was hurt or slighted in some way and the whole story is about how they go about seeking vengeance. What’s interesting is that this character is usually the hero of the story, and their revenge and lack of forgiveness is portrayed as fair, justifiable, and even praiseworthy. As viewers we usually want to see the hero get payback and restitution for all they’ve had done to them. We cheer them on as they give the bad guys what they deserve or what they had coming to them. Now maybe this plot makes for a good action thriller, but should this be the story line of our Christian lives? I think, that for many of us, it too often is. We justify and rationalize bitterness and the refusal to forgive because whoever has hurt us doesn’t deserve our forgiveness and what they did to us is “inexcusable.” But is this right? Is this what God has told us in His Word about how we should handle these situations and deal with people who hurt us?

I think the answer is found in a parable Jesus tells in Matthew 18:21-35. The parable is about a servant who is forgiven a massive debt by his master. The servant is grateful for his master’s forgiveness but then he goes out and refuses to forgive a minuscule debt owed to him by one of his fellow servants. The master hears of this and calls in his servant to ask him how he justified not forgiving his fellow servant when he had just been forgiven a much more significant debt. The master ends up throwing the unforgiving servant in jail until his debt could be paid in full. Jesus’ words at the conclusion of the parable should help us see how big of a deal forgiveness is in God’s eyes: “So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.” (Matthew 18:35)

What Jesus is trying to teach about forgiveness can be summed up in the master’s question to the servant in the parable: And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?” (Matthew 18:33)

The reality is that through Jesus Christ God has made a way for us to be forgiven of an insurmountable debt. We have willfully disregarded, distrusted, and disobeyed the Creator of the universe and because of that we deserve death and separation from Him forever in hell. But God, because He is so rich in mercy, grace, and love, has made a way for us to be forgiven of all our sins and reconciled back to him. He did this by sending His Son, Jesus Christ, to pay our penalty by dying on the cross in our place.

The point of Jesus’ parable and many other passages in the Bible that call us to forgive is that if God has really sent His son to die for us so we can be forgiven, how could we turn around and refuse to forgive those who have sinned against us? There is no doubt that the things that have been done to us are evil and extremely painful, but the truth is that our sin against God is much worse and much more despicable than any wrong that has ever been committed against us. And even so, God chooses to graciously forgive at a great cost to himself. God’s amazing love and forgiveness should be what motivates and prompts us to forgive others, no matter what they’ve done against us.

If God has really sent His son to die for us so we can be forgiven, how could we turn around and refuse to forgive those who have sinned against us? Click To Tweet

The Apostle Paul makes this same point in Ephesians:

“Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you”  (Ephesians 4:32)

The bottom-line is this: If you refuse to forgive you might not understand the Gospel as much as you think you do. A person who grasps the magnitude of the grace and forgiveness they been given in Christ will be motivated and compelled to forgive those who hurt them, even when it’s hard, even when it’s costly.

The bottom-line is this: if you refuse to forgive you might not understand the Gospel as much as you think you do. Click To Tweet

So, who do you need to forgive?

Let God’s forgiveness and love for you in the Gospel motivate you towards forgiving whoever has hurt you.

“An unforgiving heart is an unforgiven heart, and if you can’t forgive, you haven’t sensed His forgiveness.”  – Tim Keller 

“To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable, because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.”  -C.S. Lewis