Imagine if you will, someone took a nasty, rusty metal barb and stuck it in your left hand. Rather than getting it removed, however, you choose to hold on to it, even close your hand over it so no one else could see. Here’s what I see happening in this (admittedly strange), scenario. At first, the bitterness and anger at the pain is all directed at the person who did this to you. They may not even be around, as a matter of fact, they’ve probably moved on to something or someone else at this point. So after a while, that bitterness and pain begins to be directed at more and more people, eventually even hitting those you love the most. Meanwhile that rusty metal barb is causing that wound to fester, causing you constant pain, and is slowly poisoning your whole body (inset a disease here). The real solution is to let it go and heal, yet in this situation, you decide to hang on.
In reality, most people would have that metal barb removed, and clean and dress the wound to prevent disease and infection. This scenario, however, is how people treat the subject of forgiveness. They keep, and hold on to the barbs in their lives that other people have pierced in to their system. They let it infect their lives, and eventually, this makes them bitter and angry. The sad part is, this has become a part of our culture: “write them off, they’re toxic, they deserve it! Cut them out, don’t think about them any more!” And yet, we can’t ever really truly write them off or cut them out, it’s why people keep talking about the subject long after they have written or cut off these toxic people from their lives!
I’m not saying people are not toxic. I’m not saying you should move on (you should). What I’m saying is you can’t move on until you forgive them, completely and utterly; only when you’ve done that can you truly let go. Unforgiveness allows someone to live rent free in your head. It poisons you. It keeps you from the joy God has for you. And forgiveness is only possible through and in the person of Jesus Christ. It is only when we realized He has completely and utterly forgiven us (the Cross is evident of that), that we can see the mercy bestowed on us, that we can have His strength and mercy to forgive others. And in forgiving, we don’t absolve someone of their guilt (only Jesus can do that), but we remove our part in it. We not longer hold the debt, and place it in the hand of the One who is capable of handling it. It is in this same Jesus that we can cry, as He did when HE was pierced, “Forgive them Father, they know not what they do.” Let go. Put it in the hands who took the rusted metal in His for you, and who let it go completely with His blood.
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.”