Matthew 18:21 ‘Lord, how many times shall I forgive?‘
When something was done to me, I wanted to make that person pay for it. To let the other person experience my pain, just by having an attitude of rejection and exclude that person from my heart, by sneering and accusing the other one repeatedly. But it never helped. The pain didn’t disappear. Somehow I felt justified to do that, but I also felt guilty. Once in a while the other person said sorry, but I thought that was not enough. I refused to forgive and kept my stubbornness. Forgiveness felt like the approval of the other’s behavior. As if I had to let go the pain I experienced over what occured to me.
When I made a mistake by myself, I hoped for a quick act of forgiveness
In Matthew 18 the story continues where Jesus gives an example: A servant was brought to a King, a servant who had made many debts. The servant owed the King millions of money. The King decided to claim it all back. The servant could not repay that amount. The King then wanted to sell the servant, his wife and children as slaves. The man pleaded with the King to not do this. He begged the King: “Please be patient with me, I will pay you everything back “. The King took pity on him and cancelled his debt. Wow! That is not normal …it is like you would be told to pay off your mortgage today. It is actually quit normal to let you work to make money until the debt is paid, right? You beg the bank for mercy and they tell you that you are free of debts. It would feel like you won the lottery and exclaim: “I am totally free of debt!”
But then you take a walk outside and meet a friend. Instead of waive this friend, who owes you some money, you only ask your money back. You demand him this money back, no matter how you do it.
There were people who heard about the servant that was released from his very large debt, and they saw that the same servant demanded the small amount another servant owed him. That first servants debt was out of proportion in comparison to the small debt the other servant owed him. The king heard about it and is furious. The servant is arrested and put in the torture room until his large debt is paid.
Matthew 18:35 ‘So my heavenly Father will treat you the same unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.’
The moment I do not forgive my brother or sister, I put him or her in a prison of guilt. I put myself in captivity of bitterness, anger and rejection. It is like in a tortureroom. I hope that the other person will be tortured, but in the end I am tortured myself.
What you sow will you reap is a saying. Or who does well, meets well. Sow forgiveness and you will be forgiven.
“Lord, how often do I have to forgive?” Jesus says: “70 to 7 times. Again and again.” But you don’t know what someone has done to me …” That is true, but Jesus knows. He said: “Father, forgive them, they don’t know what they are doing.” And that is the truth. Most of the time one really doesn’t know what he or she is doing. Sometimes somebody acts on purpose, so that can be the reason that I really don’t want to forgive! But God wants to set you free from every burden. He wants to set you and the other person free.
Do you experience that it is very difficult to forgive, but you want to forgive and recieve freedom?
I want to invite you to pray along with this prayer:
‘Lord, I don’t know how to forgive. I have so much pain in my heart. I would rather see that the other person pays for my pain the rest of his/her life. But Lord, I want to let it go. I bring it all to you, my pain and sorrow, anger and bitterness. And Father, please forgive them. Because they don’t know what they do. I want to be free and let it go, and bring it all before you. Amen.’