Have you truly forgiven those that have hurt you?
Recently I’ve been discovering that the course of our life is set by the course of our hearts. Where our hearts are headed is where our lives will follow. If we want to be graceful people then we need to be full of grace. We are to be dispensing grace out of the overflow of our experience with that same grace. Eventually though we experience a radiating slice of pain and betrayal. I don’t care who you are… this happens to all of us. When it does happen… not if but when, how do we respond? I know I know… you’d prefer I not say someone is going to hurt you but the truth is Jesus had his Judas and the servant isn’t greater than the Master. So we may want to pay attention to learn how Jesus dealt with forgiveness.
I love this exchange between one of my favorite bible characters, Peter and Jesus. Check it out…
“Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus said to him,“I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.” Matthew 18:21-22 NKJV
I love this exchange and have pulled quite a bit out of it for a number of reasons. I love that we get to see the personality of Jesus. He uses hyperbole and just shows how He is the Master communicator! What I mean is, in Hebrew culture if you forgave someone three times then you would be considered extremely merciful. It would be pretty unheard of. So Peter thinking he’s going way beyond the legal limit of forgiveness in those days throws out the number seven. That’s pretty over the top for that context. So then Jesus jumps right back with the illustration of total forgiveness.
Wow. What a thought. Total forgiveness.
It’s what Jesus did for us.
The implications of this passage go far beyond overcoming hurt feelings. Forgiveness is vital to our souls. It’s what must pervade our hearts at all times! Unforgiveness produces bitterness; and bitterness is a poison that eats at your soul on a daily basis. I’ve seen how people live when they walk around offended and living with unforgiveness in their hearts. I’ve been there and let’s just say… it’s not a good look.
The rest of this passage (Matthew 18:23-35 NKJV) is so rich with insight but I really wanted to get to the main point of how important this is by talking about the last verse of this entire passage. So the parable Jesus is telling is how a ruler forgave the insurmountable debts of a servant but then that same servant turned around and did not forgive the a very tiny debt of a fellow servant. Well the ruler finds out and here’s what happens…
“Then his master, after he had called him, said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?’ And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him. “So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.”” Matthew 18:32-35 NKJV
I don’t know about you… but that last part concerns me. After doing quite a bit of research on that one verse it’s not clear whether unforgiveness has eternal implications but the fact that unforgiveness will produce pain in our lives is good enough for me! It says the master “delivered him to the torturers until he payed back all that was due to him.”
Living in bitterness is like living in torture.
We continue to repeat the offense over and over. We have those fake conversations with that person. We gather other people to our cause of being offended. We do everything we can to make sure everyone knows that we are hurt.
But honestly…. the truth is, we must release those who have hurt us. It doesn’t mean we become BFF’s or even have relationship with them. You must be your own person and create boundaries but those boundaries should not be constructed from bitterness. At the same time though, we should make amends for the pain we have caused others as well. Sometimes it may be well-received but for the most part, don’t expect someone you’ve hurt to be glad to hear from you.
In conclusion, when we walk in forgiveness, we walk in the love of God. My prayer for you is that you walk in freedom and that comes through forgiveness.