Have you had the opportunity to forgive someone who has wronged you? Who harmed you? Who was it? How did the act make you feel? Did you hold on or let go?
Jesus likened withholding forgiveness to prison (Matthew 18:21-35). The irony is that the person who will not forgive is the one locked inside the four walls. Forgive means “to let go.” In order to forgive someone who has wounded us, we must let go of four prison walls that incarcerate us in the prison of un-forgiveness. The first prison wall is revenge. Oftentimes, our first reaction to someone who has wronged us is revenge, which means retaliation, or repayment.
In Jesus’ parable of the unforgiving debtor, He described three scenes illustrating the three applications of the story.
Scene one portrays the largest debt ever incurred (150,000 years’ wages) being forgiven, or let go, vertically from the king to his servant.
Scene two paints a similar scenario; however, the debt incurred horizontally between the forgiven servant and his fellow servant is comparatively quite small (a hundred days’ wages). The servant who had been forgiven the largest debt ever incurred will not let go of the small horizontal debt with his fellow servant. He wants to hold on.
Scene three casts a dark reality. Word of the forgiven servant’s behavior reaches the king who responds by throwing the unforgiving servant into prison. Jesus concluded the parable with quite possibly the most sobering words in Scripture: “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart” (Matthew 18:35).
As we see in Jesus’ concluding statement, forgiveness flows from the heart. The Bible teaches us that two heart conditions exist: proud and humble. A proud heart is hard and unforgiving. A humble heart is soft and forgiving. A proud heart holds on. A humble heart lets go. When someone harms us, we either hold on, or we let go.
Pray, right now, to surrender any desire for revenge, retaliation, or repayment to the only One who can set you free. He paid it all.