Matthew 18:35 “So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.”
There is one area of your life that truly reveals your character more than anything else, and that is your ability to forgive those who have trespassed against you. The word “trespass” means to offend someone or hurt someone. In other words, when God commands the believer to forgive every brother “their trespasses,” He is saying that you are to forgive every brother who has hurt you. The fact that God commands you to forgive shows that He knows it is one area where every person will struggle. However, your ability to forgive reveals your ability to obey God. If you are not willing to forgive every brother, you will not be willing to follow God in every aspect of your life. The verse above reveals several aspects about forgiveness that reveals your character.
First, forgiveness is not the responsibility of the one who trespassed. Nowhere in the verse above, or the preceding verses, does it say that you should wait for an apology before you forgive. In fact, the opposite is commanded. Forgiveness is the responsibility of the one who has been hurt, and it is their responsibility to forgive immediately. Always remember that the longer it takes to forgive those who have hurt you, the deeper the hurt and misery that unforgiveness will cause in your life.
Second, unforgiveness is a lack of compassion. Verse 33 says, “Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant,…” A lack of compassion is the result of living for self. You acquire compassion for others by spending time with the multitudes. The fact that you can't forgive someone reveals how self-absorbed you are and your lack of spending time trying to reach the lost.
Third, unforgiveness is the choice to forget your trespasses. Verse 33 shows that someone else pitied you when you wronged them, which only reveals that your unforgiveness is your ingratitude of another’s forgiveness of your wrongs towards others. You will find it much easier to forgive when you remember how many times others have forgiven you when you wronged others.
Fourth, forgiveness and unforgiveness is a heart issue. In the verse above, God shows that He wants you to forgive others from your heart. You show me how willing you are to forgive others, and I will show you your heart towards God. The choice to forgive is a revelation of whether or not your heart is right with God. It doesn't matter how much you do for God in other areas; if you won't forgive someone who has wronged you, you are living in rebellion.
Fifth, unforgiveness leads to a life of misery. In verse 34, God shows that the one who didn't forgive was delivered to the “tormentors.” You are causing your own torment and misery in life because you won’t forgive. Waiting for someone to apologize only shows that it still won’t be enough when they do apologize because the misery of unforgiveness wants the one who trespassed to be hurt until they are destroyed. You will never find joy in life until you forgive everyone.
Sixth, forgiveness is not to be determined by the depth of the trespass but by God’s command to forgive. When God said that you are to forgive “every one,” it means that you are to forgive the one who has hurt you the deepest. Until you forgive everyone, you will continue to live a life of misery.