32 “Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. 33 Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ 34 In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed. 35 “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.” Matthew 18:32-35 NIV
In Jr. High, I played a practical joke on a classmate that embarrassed him. He was so mad. I told him I was sorry. He told me that he would not forgive me, but he would get even, no matter how long it took. His desire for revenge consumed him. We were no longer able to talk as friends.
After several weeks he devised a plan to embarass me. I had almost forgotten about the original infraction. I was not really embarrassed, but sad I had caused him to be so frustrated with me. His inability to forgive, caused him to be trapped with the torment of revenge. Our friendship was never the same again.
This is the third entry to learn how to Stand Strong against Satan – after having done everything to stand strong. Unforgiveness is another doorway the enemy gains access to harass our lives. Maybe you have made similar declarations such as the following.
- I’ve tried, but I still can’t forgive him.
- After what she did to me, there is no way I will ever forgive her.
- That betrayal was so deep, I don’t see how I can find a way to forgive.
- Forgiveness is a cop out, it’s letting the other person off the hook- I’m not going to let that happen.
- I’ve tried to forgive, but they keep hurting me again and again.
- They don’t deserve forgiveness, and they are not getting it from me.
The reality is that unforgiveness hurts the one carrying it more than the one who made the offense. It’s possible they may have already forgotten their hurtful words, degrading attitude, or prideful response. If there was a physical action of pain, they would remember unless they were under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Regardless, they have moved on and are not thinking about how much distress and pain they caused.
Unforgiveness opens the doorway by Satan to cause all kinds of stressors in your life. There is the mental anguish of interacting with the offender. There can be physical manifestations of high blood pressure and anxiety. There is the loss of joy, happiness and freedom as you deal with suspicion, vengeance, anger, and worry.
Forgiving is the only way to stop the merry-go-round and get off the unforgiveness cycle. Until forgiving the other person happens, you and you alone keep the doorway open for constant harassment by our enemy.
Forgiveness at the most hurtful levels is not easy, but it is always possible. You can forgive.
Forgiveness at its root starts with God. He forgives us of ALL of our sins. We don’t deserve it. We can’t earn it. We can only receive it by faith.
So how did God forgive us? He paid the penalty for our sin, with the blood of Jesus’ death on the cross. He cancels the debt of death that we deserved by substituting Jesus’ death in our place. Forgiveness is like a legal transaction of canceling debt never to have to be repaid. We receive this forgiveness by faith.
How do we forgive others? We cancel their debt of the offense they perpetrated against us.They have no ability to even the scales of injustice. Only you can make the balance of scales even – you cancel their offense.
Forgetting about the offense and the passage of time are not steps to forgiveness – these are postponement actions for one not willing to address the offense.
Disclaimer, Forgiveness doesn’t mean you are saying they “did nothing wrong”. It doesn’t mean they get off scotch free. It doesn’t mean they may not need to be held accountable for their actions. You have cut the cord of offense that was tied around you by forgiving them
How many times do you have to forgive? The parable in Matthew started by Peter asking Jesus, “how many times must I forgive my brother.” Jesus said, “Seventy times seven”, which is to say again and again and again.
Personally, I believe that unforgiveness is one of the biggest joy stealers for Christians. Bitterness, resentment, accusations, mistrust, and coldness consume the individuals who have not learned the principle which Jesus plainly stated. “God forgives you of all of your sins, YOU should forgive ALL others with that same standard.”
All of us have the ability, the capacity, and the opportunity to begin to forgive others from our heart and then our minds. Peace within our hearts builds on the footers poured with forgiveness from God and given to others.
Steps to Forgiveness
- Ask God to help you truly forgive the person who offended you.
- Verbalize the forgiving statement
- God, I now forgive this person for…. I cancel the debt that they owe me something to make things even again. Help me to see the word “Forgiven” over them.
- Ask the Lord to help you speak and act toward them as if they are forgiven.
- Begin to ask the Lord to bless them, and show favor to them as He has shown His kindness and goodness to you.
- This last step unleashes God’s principle for blessing in our lives. When we bless and not curse – we open the pathway for blessing to come to our lives and not cursing.
Feelings of forgiveness are the last stage of the process. You start the process and feelings will catch up later.
* If you have been physically or sexually abused, you may need the help of another person to walk with you to forgiveness. Physical trauma is an additional doorway of harassment that I will address at another time, but understand that forgiveness is still available to you. If you are living right now in a physically abusive relationship, seek help to remove yourself from the trauma.
Harmony in marriage is not the absence of conflict, it has the aroma of a lot of forgiveness extended toward one another. Pam and I established the foundation of speaking and hearing these phrases often
- I was wrong.
- I am sorry.
- Will you forgive me?
- The other person releases the debt – “I forgive you”
May you have the courage to work through the process of forgiving those who have hurt you. Cancel their debt that has chained you to misery and revenge. Receive peace and joy that comes from walking in forgiveness.
Blessings Love y’all