January 24 – Today’s Readings – Matthew 17-19 and Psalms 24
I was drawn in today by thoughts of forgiveness. When it comes to this “commandment”, God spends extra time emphasizing it for us. Today’s parable is about the servant who was forgiven so much by an all-powerful lender, yet refused to in turn forgive another man. This illustration about the consequences of not forgiving is one of the strongest in Scripture. This man somehow never made the “transfer”. The idea here is that forgiveness is not just a “me” thing – it is something that must be passed on or it has no effect. This Biblical illustration speaks directly to the hard-hearted – the ones who are holding back on God or holding back on people.
Jesus was the only one who could “purchase” forgiveness for us all and yet we hold “grudges” against people for things that are insignificant by comparison. Even the “big” sins of people are small in the light of receiving blanket forgiveness and redemption from God. We get bitter and hard – sometimes with the people who are closest to us just because we believe that it is “our right” to do so. Let’s pretend for a moment that we had the “right” to withhold forgiveness – is it then not equally God’s “right” to withhold His incredible forgiveness from us?
Here are two of the most chilling Bible verses I know – “In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed. This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from the heart”. (Chapter 18: 34-35)
Today and every day we need to practice this forgiveness – we do it by praying for the individual with whom we are having a problem – we verbalize to God our release of this person and pronounce God’s blessing upon them – turning them over to God and out of our vengeful hands. God then deals with them as He deals with every sinner – He convicts them and He loves them. If they turn to Him in repentance they chose new life but if they refuse His love they chose death.
I have known many people who had difficulty forgiving a person from their past. This typically happens when the emotional hurt is deep that whenever they think about the offences committed, they “feel” only injury and bitterness. If you are in this category today you need to forget about how you feel and go through with the outward action of forgiveness. Praying release upon the offender and giving the person to God is not dependent on your feelings, but on a love for the principles in the Word of God. You will never have “pleasant” feelings concerning the hurt or the individual who caused it, but you will be free in God.
1. Are “forgiveness” and “trust” one and the same thing?
2. How can you forgive someone Biblically if you’re still angry with them?