The Freedom of Forgiveness

Today we’re going to talk about forgiveness.

Is it easy or hard to show forgiveness to your friends (or anyone for that matter)? The truth is that it doesn’t come natural to us. We have to work at it. But the more we do it, the more natural it will become.

Think of all the people you know. Imagine you are in a big room and take a look around at everyone that would be there with you. Do you see anyone who has ever done something to hurt or upset you? When you think about what they did to you, how did you respond? When others do something wrong to you, you have 3 choices for how to respond.  

First, you could ignore what they said or did.  This might seem like a good decision, but you never get the chance to deal with your emotions. When you hold on something, it eats away at you.

Think about a skin infection, and it can get really bad when you ignore it and do nothing about it. It can get really nasty. When we ignore a wrong done to us, like an infection, it can eat away at our souls.

The second option is to get revenge.  You could do to them the exact same thing that they did to you. Or better, you could do something even worse than what they did! I think we all know that this is not the wisest choice.

For many of us, revenge is what comes naturally. It’s like a knee jerk reaction. Your brother hits you for no reason, and you whack him on the head. A friend plays a prank on you, and you get even doing something even worse to him.

The third option, forgiveness, is much better than the first two.  You could choose to forgive the person for what they said or did. Forgiveness allows you to give the whole situation to God and let Him help to fix the broken friendship. Even if you can’t be friends with the other person, God can work in you to heal your pain. Forgiveness is always the best option. It’s not just the best of the three choices; it is also a command from Jesus.

Matthew 18 tells us about a conversation that took place between Jesus and the disciples. Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus responded to Peter by saying, “I tell you, not seven times but seventy-seven times.”(Matthew18:21–22)

The disciples must not have understood Jesus’ response, so He explained it by telling them a story called a parable. In the story, there was a King who wanted to collect the debts of all his servants. Each of the servants had to go before the King and pay him what they owed. If they could not pay, the custom was to be thrown in prison until the debt could be paid.

One of the servants owed a great deal of money to the King. The Bible says that the debt was equal to 10,000 bags of gold! When the King learned that the servant couldn’t pay the debt, He ordered that all of the man’s possessions be sold. On top of that, the man, his wife, and his children were ordered to be sold as slaves! The servant fell to his knees and begged the King to have mercy on him. Matthew18:27 says, “The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let himgo.”

Can you believe that? This massive debt was just erased, and the man was free to go! After he left, the servant went and found another man who owed him money. The Bible tells us that this man owed him around 100 silver coins. The man fell to his knees and begged for mercy because he couldn’t pay his debt. Sound familiar? Listen to what happened in the end of this story.

Matthew 18:29–34 29 “His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’

30 “But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. 31 When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened.

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

This man was forgiven so much, and yet he couldn’t forgive someone else for this little amount. The point Jesus was making was that we have all been forgiven for so much by God. He chose to love us and offer us forgiveness for sin. If we have been forgiven for so much, how can we not forgive someone who has done something wrong to us?

Forgiveness is always the best option It’s not easy to forgive others, but it is what Jesus commands us to do. Even if the other person is not really sorry, we still have to forgive and give it over to God.

Colossians 3:13 says, “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”

Remember, we should forgive others the way God has forgiven us

Dear Heavenly Father,
Thank you for the power of forgiveness,
Help me to learn to be kind and compassionate,
forgiving others, just as You forgave me.
In Jesus Name,
Amen