Matthew 18:21-35 (KJV)

21 Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?
22 Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.
23 Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants.
24 And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents.
25 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.
26 The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.
27 Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt.
28 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.
29 And his fellowservant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.
30 And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt.
31 So when his fellowservants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done.
32 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:
33 Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee?
34 And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him.
35 So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.

You’re in a difficult situation, and one by one, friends have fallen away and lost contact. Now the pain is worse because you’re suffering alone.

Why did these people desert you?

There are many possible reasons.

For example, they might have left because they felt inadequate. Or maybe they couldn’t stand to watch you suffer. Perhaps, though, some had their own best interests in mind and feared falling into similar trouble or being associated with a socially unacceptable situation.

You might wonder how to respond to them.

Whatever the reason was for desertion, there is only one appropriate biblical response—forgiveness.

The reason is that as forgiven people, it makes no difference what someone has done to us; we never have the right to withhold forgiveness.

After being left alone during his Roman imprisonment, Paul wrote this about those who had abandoned him: “May it not be counted against them” (2 Tim. 4:16). In other words, he forgave them. The apostle probably remembered what happened when Stephen was stoned. Paul had been present as one of the persecutors, after all, and he heard the dying man cry out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them!” (Acts 7:60).

But it is probable that Paul had an even greater act of forgiveness in mind: Christ’s atoning death and His attitude toward the crucifiers (Luke 23:34).

Because God forgives us (and all who turn to Him) of all sins, we don’t have the right to withhold forgiveness from anyone, and that certainly includes our friends.

Is there someone you need to forgive? If so, do it today.

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