Forgiveness brings peace. Forgiveness brings freedom. Forgiveness is not cheap. It comes with a price. That price is releasing someone from a debt they owe you. This week’s step is not easy but it is possible through the power of the Holy Spirit. AND it can be done “from the heart”! Not just mental assent. You have done some good work in the weeks previous and in this fifth week, the Lord will not cease to walk you through forgiveness as well.
Disclaimer: This devotional is not a substitute or replacement for your regular therapy or mental health. If it causes flashbacks or distress, see a mental health professional right away. I am not licensed to counsel or give therapy of any kind nor is this devotional an attempt to do so. The contents and suggestions in this devotional are ones of personal experience of my own and are not meant to be professional advice or therapy.
Matthew 18: 21-35
21 Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?”
22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven. 23 Therefore the kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24 And when he had begun to settle accounts, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. 25 But as he was not able to pay, his master commanded that he be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and that payment be made. 26 The servant, therefore, fell down before him, saying, ‘Master, have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ 27 Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt.
28 “But that servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and he laid hands on him and took him by the throat, saying, ‘Pay me what you owe!’ 29 So his fellow servant fell down [e]at his feet and begged him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you [f]all.’ 30 And he would not, but went and threw him into prison till he should pay the debt. 31 So when his fellow servants saw what had been done, they were very grieved, and came and told their master all that had been done. 32 Then his master, after he had called him, said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. 33 Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?’ 34 And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him.
35 “So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother [g]his trespasses.”
Write it off! No more revelatory words have been spoken – write it off. I’ve been dealing with forgiveness. Letting things go. TD Jakes book “Let It Go” is really helping me. But his chapter on “write it off” about those who have never apologized, acknowledged or even cared about the hurts against you, how do you forgive those? Simple… write it off! You are never going to get from them what you want so write it off as a loss. Don’t continue to torture yourself and expect from them something they’ll never be able to give and something you’ll never get. Don’t continue to short change your future while that person is moving into theirs and you are still stuck in the past. But that means letting go of what I want and expect in the present. If those persons continue to deal in relationship with me with an “I don’t care” attitude or one of control and manipulation, I can’t be a part of relationship with them. Part of the letting go of the past with them would or may mean letting go of the present with them. This is the Dilemma. What and how to move forward?? Lord only you know.
When we think of the most heinous crimes or atrocities in human history, we often wonder, “how could forgiveness ever come to those who inflicted the injury?”. How could God be asking us to excuse them? He is not asking us to excuse them, He’s asking us to forgive them. When we walk with Jesus, through His crucifixion (not literally), our eyes are opened to the power of forgiveness and pardon.
I remember when I saw the movie “Passion of the Christ”, I wept for hours after that movie, feeling so undeserving of Jesus’ love and forgiveness, yet eternally grateful for it. There was nothing I could have ever done to earn that kind of love. I could have never measured up to the standard that warranted that kind of penalty. Suddenly I realized the ground is level at the foot of the cross and we are all guilty in His sight and fall short, way short, of His glory.
Who am I to hold someone captive to a debt that I couldn’t even pay? That is what forgiveness boils down to. A debt is owed to us. There is no denying that. But we must deny ourselves the luxury of expecting it’s payment from others. Especially when we are unable to pay the debts we, ourselves owe to others for the offenses we have committed against them.
Have you ever been forgiven? Have you ever been released from a debt you owed? This is what we must do if we want to be free. And with that statement, I also want to bring a correction to that idea that we’ve heard for many years about forgiveness. Of course, this is my opinion, but I think it bears out in scripture. The idea that partners that statement is that we extend forgiveness to others for our own benefit; for our own freedom. And even though that is a result of forgiveness, that can’t be our motivation.
Let me ask you this, did Jesus forgive us for Himself? Did He pardon our sins so He could be free?
No need to elaborate.
As you read that statement, don’t debate it, just let it sink in.
Many times in scripture we are commanded to forgive as Christ forgave us. (Matthew 18:35; 6:15, Colossians 3:13)
There really is no easy way to this and you need to settle that right now. The crucifixion displayed, not only God’s great love for us but the savagery of our sin upon Jesus. No other payment could be warranted but death. This is the severity of our sin and of those who have sinned against us. So God is by no means excusing what is done to us, but providing the same way of escape for all mankind. We must extend this to others. One of the ways we do this is by praying for those who have used and abused us.
Mourn your losses. Mourn them and do not take them lightly. It is when we minimize our pain that it screams out to be heard and reckoned with. Just as the blood of Abel called out for justice from the earth. Justice was satisfied in the cross. God’s and ours. Apply it to those who have wronged you. If you have to, make a list of names, do it and call out each one to the Father and extend forgiveness to each one and surrender them to God. This is the only way.
As you do, the Father may allow you to experience their pain in harming you. I remember when I had the chance to face my abuser as an adult, the person you sexually abused me. They were broken and brokenhearted over what they had done. This may not be the case for you. However, Forgiveness still applies even if you never hear repentance from their lips. Christ died WHILE we were still sinners.
One final note, remember to forgive yourself. You may be the person who needs it most.
6 When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. 7 Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good. 8 But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. 9 And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation. 10 For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son. 11 So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God.