We have been talking about forgiveness. Jesus tells the Parable of the Unmerciful Servant to bring light to the subject. It is the story of a servant who was forgiven a $14 billion debt but fails to forgive the $12,000 debt of a fellow servant (see Matthew 18:23-35). It is a story about the importance of forgiveness. Forgiveness is important, but forgiveness is hard. I heard it said that the person who says forgiveness is easy has never truly forgiven.
Jesus does not dismiss how we are often deeply hurt by others. He doesn’t liken the debt of the second servant to $20. He describes it as a $12,000 debt. If someone owed you $12,000, it would be hard to cancel that debt. It would be difficult to miss out on that money. The debt in this story represents when someone sins against you.
- Maybe you suffered under an abusive spouse.
- Maybe you went through an ugly divorce and were taken advantage of.
- Maybe you have siblings you feel cheated you out of a share of your inheritance.
- Maybe you had a co-worker lie about you and got you reprimanded or even fired.
- Maybe you had money stolen or were a victim of identity theft.
- Maybe you feel as if someone did not recognize you or show the appreciation you thought that they should.
- Maybe you told someone something in confidence and they betrayed that confidence.
God is aware of the depth of your hurt and pain. He is aware of your sorrows. He does not dismiss that you have been wronged. He does not treat forgiveness as being easy. He knows forgiveness is hard.
But Jesus calls his followers to die to self. We take up our losses and crosses. This means dying to ungrace and unforgiveness. To forgive is to die to self. It is putting to death our pride, our anger, our bitterness, and our desire for vengeance. It is giving up things we don’t want to give up. But when we fail to put these things to death, we miss out on the new life God intends for us. Forgiveness is hard, but there is a new beginning that comes with forgiveness.
God Invites us to Bring the Pain to Him
No one is healed by hurting another person or by withholding forgiveness. Holding bitterness, anger, or resentment is not going to do anything to release you from the pain of your hurt. Yet, we are still tempted to think it will make us feel better if we remain bitter and enraged.
Ask God to release you from the pain and the hurt. He is the healer. He is the one who takes our pain, who dries our tears, who binds our wounds. Pray unto him to release you from the prison of unforgiveness you find yourself locked into. It is through God’s healing and immense forgiveness that we are empowered to do the impossible – forgive when others have hurt us.
Know that he is also a God of justice. He makes all things right. Whatever injustice you have suffered, believe that all will be held accountable. It takes faith to believe that God has a greater ability to bring justice to a given situation than you do. Forgiveness is an act of dependence upon God and letting go of our need to be in control of executing justice.
Listen to what the Apostle Paul says:
“Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:17–21, ESV)
No one said it was easy. Forgiveness is hard. It is not natural, but supernatural. It is not humanly inspired, but divinely inspired. It is only through God’s forgiveness and grace that we are enabled to forgive others. What hurt or pain, inflicted upon you by others, do you need to bring to your Heavenly Father?
- Why do you find forgiveness so hard?
- What gives you the ability to overcome a lack of forgiveness?
- What hurt or pain to you need to release to God?