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Forgiveness: Your Most Valuable Communication Skill

by Mike Smith • August 27, 2015

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Communication is a powerful tool, and in the digital age, it is constantly changing. Email and social media provide relatively inexpensive and widely available ways for anyone to publish and access information, collaborate on common efforts, or build relationships with people anywhere in the world. However, this has its pitfalls.

For example, we’ve all experienced that feeling of dismay when we accidentally hit “send” on an angry email, before we’ve given ourselves the chance to moderate our response. Or what about those situations when a private message is accidentally sent to an entire email list? An ill-advised text or social media posting can have the same impact.

Whether we’re on the sending or receiving end of such communications, the results can be devastating. What can we do when this happens?

Matthew 18:21–35 addresses the issue of forgiveness. Peter approached Jesus and asked, “Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?” Peter must have been shocked at Jesus’ reply: “Until seventy times seven.”

Beginning at verse 23, Jesus tells the parable of a king whose servant owed him a huge debt he could not repay. When the king was about to throw the servant into debtor’s prison, the man begged for patience, with a promise to repay all. The king had mercy and forgave him everything he owed.

But then the servant went out, found a fellow servant who owed him a small debt, and threw him into debtor’s prison. When the king found out about this, he called his servant back and, in anger over his lack of compassion, threw him into prison. The chapter closes with Jesus’ sobering words: “So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.”

The application for us is that anytime we communicate, there is a risk that we are going to be on the receiving or even giving end of something hurtful. If we will follow Jesus’ teaching on forgiveness, it will eliminate a lot of heartache and negative consequences. As we use social media and other forms of electronic communication, let’s be prepared to forgive the difficult things we may hear—they come with the territory. If we forgive, it opens up pathways for God’s grace to change and save lives.