It’s Story Time
One day, Peter came to Jesus and asked, “How many times do I have to forgive someone who offends me? Surely seven times would be enough.” Jesus answered, “not seven times but seventy times seven.”
He, then, told a story of a servant who had borrowed money from his master. When it was time to settle debts, the servant could not pay what he owed. The master ordered the servant and his family to be sold as slaves until his debt was paid. The servant threw himself at his master’s feet, and begged for mercy. The master had compassion, and released him from the entire debt.
The next move the servant made was the exact opposite of what he just experienced. He met up with one of his fellow servants who owed him money, and began to demand payment and even threatened his life. When his associate begged for patience, the forgiven servant refused, having him thrown in jail.
When the master heard all of this, he was angry and summoned the forgiven servant. He said, “Is this the way you respond to my mercy? Because you begged me, I forgave you the massive debt that you owed me. Why didn’t you show the same mercy to your fellow servant that I showed you?” (Matthew 18:32-33,TPT) The master turned him over to the prison guard until all his debt was repaid.
Then Jesus said, “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.” (Matthew 18:35, NIV) (PARAPHRASE MINE)
To Hold On or To Let Go…That’s the question
Why are we so bent on holding on to grievances or hurts? We feel so justified in our pain and often wear it like a badge. To be honest, there are some offenses that are so egregious, no one would blame us for holding on to them.
But, then we run into God’s far-reaching love and grace. Sooner or later, we are confronted with what His son did on the cross for each of us. He didn’t wait for us to clean up our act or look like we had it all together. “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8) The same God who dealt with every sin and wrongdoing in our life…the same God who forgives us has the power to overcome all the negative and hurtful things in our life. When we hold on to the hurt, we become stuck…unable to move in the freedom and life Christ offers.
A Simple Act Looks Extraordinary
In his book, Fresh Faith, Jim Cymbala tells the story of Maria. As a child, she was sexually abused by her father. This turned into years of a destructive lifestyle and damaging relationships. Soon after receiving Christ as her rescuer and redeemer she wanted to extend the same forgiveness to her father. At that meeting, she said, “Pop, what you did was wrong. But I don’t hate your anymore. I forgive you. God can change your life and forgive you, too. Pop, I love you.” (For more of this story: Fresh Faith, pgs. 43-48 * 82-85)
Corrie Ten Boom
After a speaking engagement, Corrie Ten Boom came face to face with her tormentor from Ravensbruck, a German concentration camp. Her sister also died because of the actions of this man. After the war, he became a follower of Christ and experienced the deepforgiveness only He can offer. He wondered if she could also forgive him. “Corrie remembered that forgiveness is an act of the will — not an emotion. ‘Jesus, help me!’ she prayed. She thrust out her hand and said ‘I forgive you, brother!’ With all of my heart.” (For more of this story, click here)
Amber Guyger is serving a 10 year sentence after killing Botham Jean in his apartment. At the conclusion of her trial, Brandt Jean, Botham’s brother, surprised everyone during his Victim Impact Statement. He said, “if you truly are sorry — I know I can speak for myself — I forgive you. And I know if you go to God and ask Him, He will forgive you.” He, then, asked the judge if he could give her a hug. (For more of this story: video)
Isn’t it time, friends?
Loosen the grip on your offenses. Extend the same forgiveness and mercy that has been shown you. Trade in your anger and hurt for the freedom that is only experienced by laying it all down at the foot of the cross. When mercy has been received, mercy should be freely given.