Read Matthew 18:21-35 The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant
God cancels a huge debt; we must learn to cancel too. He demands everything as He gave us everything.
There is great power in forgiveness. Power for good and power for bad. This power we hold in our hands because God has given it to us. We are all able to choose whether we will forgive someone else, or not.
What will we do with it?
Will we be like the unforgiving servant: no sooner had he been forgiven than he chose to hold onto the power he had and use it against the one who came to him for forgiveness. We hold onto unforgiveness because we feel that we have the right to play the victim. There are times where we may have been a victim.
Forgiveness is a process, and takes time, but most stuff we don't forgive people for is petty and shallow.
But we choose to hold onto it. Why?
The main reason of course is that our pride gets hurt. 'Well I'm not going to church or speaking to that person because of what they said or done to me'. Yes! We get the hump!
Can you imagine God getting the hump with us and not wanting to speak to us because of what we have done to Him? Thankfully God never gets the hump. God is a forgiving God. He cancels all our debts and we are supposed to reflect this in our lives.
As I have been forgiven, so I choose to forgive. It is the Father's way to forgive - what right do we have not to forgive someone? Forgiveness is what sets us free from sin.
How many times have you either said or been told that forgiveness is not possible, because feelings are too strong. 'I can't forgive because I feel that so much injustice was done. Therefore I Can't forgive'. Or we say that we can't forgive because the other person is not sorry - but we HAVE to forgive, regardless of their repentance.
A choice we make
Forgiveness (and unforgiveness) is a choice; we are to obey the commandment of God to forgive, as an act of will. People say, 'I can't forgive because I can't forget', but nowhere does it say that our forgiveness is contingent on our forgetting. It is all about our attitude. If someone steals your car and you have to walk to work every day, you can forgive - but it's hard to forget.
It's almost impossible to forget any significant event or delete it from our memory. But forgiveness is not about feeling, but about making a conscious decision to release someone and not to hold it against them. The person who forgives often benefits far more than the person who is forgiven. If we won't forgive we are the ones who are harmed. If we forgive, we are the ones who are blessed.
If we don't forgive, apart from hindering our progress, we also freeze ourselves in a particular past wrong and cannot move ahead.
We think that forgiveness is really about the other person - it's their fault - but the truth is, the focus of attention in any unforgiveness is Us. When we forgive, we are saying, 'I have decided that this may never be put right in the way I want. I release you from the obligation I feel you have to me. I set myself free from these chains that binds me to you and those actions. I resolve not to hold those things against you anymore'.
By releasing them, you set yourself free to be blessed. What you don't forgive, you re-live. If bitterness takes root, it will cause more damage to the one who carries it. Forgiveness is never easy, but not to forgive will cause more pain in our relationship with God and with others. Sometimes instead of forgiving someone, we bury it and get on with life. We think this is the same as forgiveness but it's not. As long as you don't forgive someone, you take them with you, or worse still, carry them like an albatross around your neck.
When I was eleven I was abused by a neighbour. As a child, I could do no more than bury these experiences deep within me. Many years later however, God brought all this to the surface and with it came all the hurt and all the pain I had suppressed all those years ago. I didn't realise that I was emotionally scarred and it was holding me back. I had to let it all go and hand it over to Him, to forgive and release that person. Only then did I feel such release, such freedom, I was able to move on.
Only when you turn your focus in the right direction and forgive, can you move ahead. You control your attitude and your response.
It honours God when you choose to forgive.
At times we can find it so hard to let go, to forgive another because they have hurt us. We thank You that You do not leave us on our own, but by Your great love, You are there to help us to forgive and live in that freedom. Amen
Jesus set an example for us all to follow when He forgave those who crucified Him. Let us ask God to help us, to be more like Him, learning how to open our hands in forgiveness, to release it's positive power into our lives. Seeking to empower and enable the other person to discover the freedom and joy which forgiveness brings and sharing in that freedom and joy ourselves.