“For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6:14-15 ESV).
I deeply understand the power of forgiveness. But I came about this knowledge in an unconventional manner. Sure, I had some understanding from my salvation, but I learned so much more through the power of unforgiveness.
There was a long season of my life during which I carried with me the burden of my own sin because I refused forgiveness for someone who had wronged me. It was never really my intention to hold a grudge, but I couldn’t figure out how to move on from theoretical forgiveness to its practical counterpart. I was weighed down by the thoughts of what might have been. I laid the blame for every misfortune on one individual, refusing to accept my own responsibility. I was hurt, angry, and bitter.
While God’s forgiveness is instantaneous, we must learn to forgive. It comes more easily to some than to others, but the call to forgive is universal. God expects each of us to walk in forgiveness because of the forgiveness that we have received from Him.
In Matthew 18 we find the familiar parable of the unforgiving servant (Matthew 18:21-35). A certain man had an impossibly large debt and was called in to pay it or be thrown in debtor’s prison with his entire family. He pleaded for patience with the one to whom the debt was owed, and the entire debt was forgiven!
Unfortunately this same man had a debtor for a small sum and would not grant him any patience, but had him imprisoned until he could pay his debt. When the patient creditor got word of his debtor’s actions he restaked his claim and had the man and his family thrown into prison. Jesus ended the parable with these words, “So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart”(Matthew 18:35 ESV).
Unforgiveness is a cancer that eats away at our souls. Forgiveness, on the other hand, is like a great teacher filling our hearts and minds with love.
I wish that I could give you Three Easy Steps On How To Forgive, but there is no easy way. No one can tell you how to forgive. It is a path that you have to choose to walk. For some this is a short journey; for others it can take a lifetime. My journey spanned the better part of two decades. But thankfully, while we must walk each step of the journey, we don’t have to walk it alone! “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you” (John 14:26 ESV).
The destination is love, but the path is forgiveness.