23 "That is why the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants.
24 When he began to do this, a servant who owed him millions of dollars was brought to him.
25 Because he could not pay off the debt, the master ordered him, his wife, his children, and all that he had to be sold to pay off the account.
26 Then the servant fell at his master's feet and said, 'Be patient with me, and I will repay everything!'
27 The master felt sorry for his servant, freed him, and canceled his debt.
28 But when that servant went away, he found a servant who owed him hundreds of dollars. He grabbed the servant he found and began to choke him. 'Pay what you owe!' he said.
29 Then that other servant fell at his feet and begged him, 'Be patient with me, and I will repay you.'
30 But he refused. Instead, he turned away and had that servant put into prison until he would repay what he owed.
31 The other servants who worked with him saw what had happened and felt very sad. They told their master the whole story.
32 Then his master sent for him and said to him, 'You evil servant! I canceled your entire debt, because you begged me.
33 Shouldn't you have treated the other servant as mercifully as I treated you?'
34 His master was so angry that he handed him over to the torturers until he would repay everything that he owed.
35 That is what my Father in heaven will do to you if each of you does not sincerely forgive other believers."
Matthew chapter 6:
14 Your heavenly Father will forgive you if you forgive those
who sin against you;
15 but if you refuse to forgive them, He will not forgive you.
Matthew 6 : 14 & 15 makes it very clear that God's forgiveness cannot reach us until we in turn have forgiven those who have wronged us. If we are to enter fully into the salvation that God is offering we have to open the way in our lives for Him.
In Isaiah 40, the prophet says it like this:
3. Listen! I hear the voice of someone shouting, "Make a road for the Lord through the wilderness; make him a straight, smooth road through the desert.
4. Fill the valleys; level the hills; straighten out the crooked paths and smooth off the rough spots in the road.
5. The glory of the Lord will be seen by all mankind together." The Lord has spoken - it shall be.
One of the roads into our lives that we need to prepare for God is the road of forgiveness.
Forgiveness means releasing people who have wronged me from imprisonment in my inner person so I can be free of baggage from the past.
This is true even if the person is dead. Why should you release a dead person? Forgiveness is not for the benefit of the other person.
Forgiving is always for the benefit of the one doing the forgiving. If I release someone who has wronged me, whether they are alive or dead, I benefit because I make a clear way for God into my life.
When I refuse to release those who have wronged me, I clog up the lifeline between God and me, so His blessings cannot reach me. So I lose!
However, if the one to be forgiven is still living, forgiveness does not necessarily mean renewing the relationship with that person, because in some cases this may be unwise.
For instance, if you have been taken advantage of by the person you need to forgive, what forgiveness will do for you is to make it possible for you to let go of the bad feelings that go with your memories. In this way you will be able to go forward with your life, because you will no longer be burdened by the terrible feelings that go with the memories of that time in your life.
However, if that person is still prepared to take advantage of you, and you are not able to stand up to them, you should not seek to renew the relationship with them even though you have forgiven them and moved on in the blessing of God with your life.
In Matthew 18 : 21 - 35 Jesus says that when someone wrongs us, they
then owe us a debt which they cannot repay.
The only way to clear that debt is to forgive it and he warned us what would happen if we refuse to forgive that person.
Matthew chapter 18:
34. And his lord was very angry, and delivered him to the tormentors,
till he should pay all that was due unto him.
Verse 34 is very clear when it says that unforgiveness leads us into a life of torment from which not even God will rescue us.
Forgiveness is God's method of helping us to give up "the debts" of past hurts and disappointments so we can be free to walk in His abundance.
Many times, unforgiveness is like holding other people in a prison in my inner person. When the hurts of the past well up within me, it's like taking them out of that prison and beating them up and putting them back in lock-up.
If I persist in holding them there, I LOSE! They may have gone on with their lives and forgotten me, but the incident(s) are still holding me in prison. It is I who carry the baggage of these people's offences around with me. Therefore, I LOSE!
It is worth repeating that forgiveness means releasing such people from imprisonment in our hearts so we can be free of baggage from the past and move on with joy from the Lord.
It is often not possible to forgive and forget.
Indeed, sometimes it is foolish to forget what has happened to us because when we force ourselves to forget, we don't think things through and learn any lessons from the past, and then we repeat the same mistakes all over again.
But it is possible to forgive and remember without the hurt from the past overwhelming us.
When the hurt is really terrible we need to seek the help of God and people we trust in getting to the place where the memory no longer has the power to ruin our present lives.
In John chapter 20 :
23 Jesus says,
"If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them;
if you retain the sins of any, they are retained."
One interpretation of this scripture is that if I refuse to forgive someone who has wronged me, I retain his sins within my heart, and I open myself to acting towards others, in the same manner that he has acted towards me.
What that means in real life is that when I start treating others the way that person treated me, I begin hating myself, because my behaviour reminds me of the past which is full of awful memories. It is a vicious cycle.
Whereas, if I forgive his sins against me, I release these sins from my heart and I am freed from behaving in that way towards others.
When I release those who have wronged me, and ask God to deal with them in His own way, I am choosing God's quality of life.
Looked at in this light, it is certainly in my best interest to forgive those who have wronged me.
"HE WHO CANNOT FORGIVE
BREAKS THE BRIDGE
OVER WHICH HE
HIMSELF MUST PASS."
Just as God has forgiven my offences against Him, He requires me to do
the same for others who have offended me through disappointment, hurt,
abuse, neglect etc.
We need to forgive so that God's forgiveness can really benefit us fully.
Here is a prayer to help you begin in this area:
Heavenly Father, I thank You that when I asked You to forgive my sins,
that You did, and You did not hold them against me.
I want to open my life to the benefits of Your forgiveness and peace. Therefore, I want to forgive (call the names of those who come to your mind) for sinning against me. I let them go from my heart and I give up my anger against them.
In the name of Jesus, I BLESS them from my heart. I release them from every evil I have called into their lives and I ask You to forgive me for speaking evil over them.
I ask You to heal the hurt in my heart, so that my soul will be restored as You promised.
I renounce unforgiveness and I ask You to release me from the tormentors, so that I can experience Your peace.
Thank You for hearing and answering me now,
as I pray in the Name of Jesus Christ,