…forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us. Luke 11:4
Unforgiveness is bondage. It is a prison of bitterness and unpaid debt. However, the offended one is the one trapped. Unforgiveness and bitterness are common themes in the counseling office. How often have I heard and said myself, “Forgiveness frees you, the one offended” as if somehow that makes it more palatable, more appealing and making it more about the offended one and little to do with the offender.
It is true that forgiveness frees the offended person from debt-tracking and the poison of bitterness. But is God’s primary purpose in calling us to forgive others for OUR benefit?
That gives us pause doesn’t it?
Our forgiveness cost Jesus a very high price. Forgiveness costs someone. When we forgive another it will cost us and for some it will cost a very dear price. Not like what it cost Jesus but still a sacrifice of releasing the debt. It is not our place to hold a person’s debt against them.
Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” Romans 12:19
When Jesus summarized the law He shared the two great commandments: #1 Love God, #2 Love others (See Matthew 22:37-40). Forgiving another person is a way we love God and love others. Unforgiveness is a form of loving self, elevating our desires, attitudes, perspectives, wants, expectations and preferences above both God’s and others.
Unforgiveness is the fruit of electing ourselves judge, jury and prison warden. These roles are self-proclaimed not God-given.
What if God’s purpose in calling us to forgive others is that they would be drawn to Jesus Christ and that He would be glorified?
Are we so hardened and blinded by bitterness that we would not want that for another human being? Do they deserve it? No!
Did we? …but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8. No, we did not deserve forgiveness either.
Forgiveness is a gift from God that is intended for re-gifting. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Ephesians 4:32
P.S. I have heard some horrific stories of evil and sin perpetrated against people, I know it will cost you more than most, but I also know that by God’s grace – it is possible for you to forgive your offender. I don’t take lightly what that will mean for you.
Written by Diane Hunt: Diane Hunt serves on the board of America’s Keswick and is the Executive Director & CEO of Changed Choices, a Christian non-profit in North Carolina. She is also a biblical counselor and women’s event speaker. For more information about having Diane speak at your next event please contact her at email@example.com.
Think About This: “Does the Lord rule your thoughts, desires, choices, words, and actions? If the Lord is God, follow Him. Belief in the sovereignty of God that doesn’t produce willing surrender isn’t Biblical belief.” – Paul David Tripp