An Exercise in Forgiveness

Forgiveness is surrendering my right to hurt you for hurting me. Archibald Hart

forgiveness.jpgIn Matthew 18:15-20 we find lessons in forgiveness. Jesus emphasized the importance of forgiveness when it comes to our hurts and disappointments. The disciples were curious as to how many times they should forgive one another.
It was the practice of the Jews that a brother might be forgiven of a repeated sin three times but on the fourth, there was to be no forgiveness. Therefore Peter, suggested forgiving someone seven times. He thought that his suggestion was already gracious enough. Jesus however emphasized that they should not set a limit on the frequency of forgiving one another. Instead forgiveness should be unlimited. The idea of seventy times seven implies unlimited and wholehearted forgiveness. (vv. 22, 35)

Warren Wiersbe said that “The world’s worst prison is the prison of an unforgiving heart. If we refuse to forgive others, then we are only umprisoning ourselves and causing our own torment. Some of the most miserable people I have met in my ministry have been people who could not forgive others. They lived only to imagine ways to punish these
people who had wronged them. But they were really only punishing themselves.”

An unforgiving spirit leads to other sins – anger, a critical spirit, bitterness, and indifference, not to mention the various illnesses associated with unforgiveness. See
Ephesians 4:30-32.

When I forgive someone, that doesn’t make the other person right. It simply sets me free. For example, let’s say you owe me $100. After several reminders you still haven’t
paid me back. Finally, I say that I forgive you of the debt. Forgiveness has freed you from having to repay the $100, but it also frees me from the burden of knowing that you owe
me. I’m still out my $100. I have just incurred the debt myself.

That sounds a lot like what Jesus did for us on the cross, doesn’t it? He paid our debt and set us free. We were still guilty. We were wrong, but His forgiveness frees us of our debt. Likewise, when I forgive someone it simply means I incur the debt myself and don’t seek repayment. Forgiveness is tremendously liberating.

Whom do you need to forgive today? Perhaps you need to forgive your fellow church member, your parents, your siblings, your co-workers, your spouse, and your relatives. Release yourself from the prison of an unforgiving heart and from the curse of sin.


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