There are a lot of people who go to church on Sundays that do so with bitter hearts. Seriously. Many of us (and I have to admit that I’ve been guilty of this) sing about the Joy of the Lord and the looks on our faces should make others wonder as to whether or not we were baptized in Pickle Juice (dill, not sweet). And why is that? There are likely many reasons, but the biggest that I’ve seen is that many believers hold grudges, and, rather than letting go and giving them over to Christ, they hold on to them, and it courses through their spirits like slow moving poison in the blood stream.
Bitterness, anger, jealousy, hate and things like these hold no proper course for the follower of Christ. Some of these have righteous uses, yet we use them, often, in the wrong ways. Jesus puts it simply: let it go, forgive, and you’ll be forgiven, don’t forgive, and you won’t be forgiven. Forgiveness does not absolve the guilty parties of their guilt, per se (I know it does when God forgives, but still, we must face the consequences of our actions). It releases you from holding a debt over someone (which is why Jesus taught us to pray “forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” God forgives our transgressions, our debts against Him, and commands us to forgive those who have wronged us, hence the debts we hold against others.
And why is this? If we cannot forgive, we’re never truly free from sin. The people we choose not to forgive forever bind us to the wrongs done against us…unless we can learn to let go. We’re free when we let things go. And forgiving someone may never change them, but it frees us from every weight and burden we’re holding on to. And this release helps us see God more clearly, and frees us for the things He has for us, blessings, maturity, persecutions and good works, which all lead to growth in Him (read Romans 8, especially vs. 28). Jesus meant what He said: if we don’t forgive, we won’t be forgiven. Forgive, and be free.
Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.
“Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii, and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay what you owe.’ So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt. When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place. Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”