To Forgive is to be Forgiven.
"Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, 'Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me?
Up to seven times?'
Jesus answered, 'I tell you, not seven times, but seventy times seven.'
…'Then the master called the servant in, 'You wicked servant,' he said,
'I cancelled all that debt of yours because you begged me to.
Shouldn't you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?'
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 your heart.'"
-Matthew 18: 21-22, 32-35
Over the past two weeks I have been incredible challenged on this passage of scripture. I've never felt that I was a person who found it hard to forgive, and yet for one person in particular in these last two weeks, I felt like it was justified for me to not forgive. This person was causing physical damage to a person I really love, as well as emotional stress to both my friend and myself. Although I never felt personally in physical danger, my friend definitely was. And that made me scared, and angry. It made me angry at this one person for taking my friend's peace, and for taking mine.
I know that forgiveness is a choice, I also know that forgiveness comes in stages, as does healing from what it is you need to forgive someone from. There are things that happened to me over fifteen years ago that I still find myself having to go back and forgive again when it comes to mind. But I know that forgiving is what God tells us to do, because by the same measure we will be judged. If we walk in forgiveness with one another, God forgives the crap that I have done to others and to Him as well.
Our human nature, our fallen human nature in a fallen world, is constantly being pulled back to selfishness. Unforgiveness is one of the easiest traps we can be led into as human beings, because it is within our fallen nature to think of ourselves first before anyone else.
When this all was happening during the last two weeks, I found myself so angry at a person who I had never met, and yet this person hated me. Hated me. A person they had never met. And this person wished to cause me and someone else harm. Shouldn't it be within my rights as an individual to be allowed to be angry with this person???? Yes, that's allowed. But my error was in my posture of unforgiveness. God challenged me on this a few days ago, and again this morning as I was trying to figure out which passage of scripture to look at for my morning devotions.
"I cancelled all that debt of yours because you begged me to.
Shouldn't you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?'"
See the thing about this debt that was cancelled, was it was the equivalent to millions of dollars. Not just a small debt. The servant's debt was way more than he would ever have the possibility of paying off. And yet he turned around to a fellow servant who owed a few dollars to him and was violent with him in his insistence to pay back those few dollars.
This is the exact same as my own debt. The debt that I need to be forgiven for by God can never ever be repaid, and yet He paid it. He didn't have to, but He did it because He loved me. When I harden my heart against someone else and demand that I should be able to have a posture of unforgiveness towards them, my heart becomes even harder, and worse than that, I am spitting on (though in actual fact more like taking a poop on) what God has done for me. I am telling Him that it is not good enough that He forgave me, because I refuse to forgive someone else. I am blind to my own sin, and yet I see someone else's as so much worse. It is a lie.
I cried when I realized just how much anger I had in my heart towards this person I had never even met. God showed me that I actually need just as much forgiving as that person does. I am no different from how she is. We have all sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and yet Jesus redeems us and makes us like Him because of what He did for us - dying for us and conquering death when He rose from the grave. We are all on equal ground. So how dare I spit in His face by refusing to forgive someone? My response instead when someone does something wrong to me is to get on my knees and pray for God's compassion to enter my heart, and for His voice to speak to that person and change their heart, because He is the only one who can. My unforgiveness doesn't make one iota of difference in changing their heart. In fact, it does the exact opposite. It closes mine instead. Oh Jesus, have mercy on me, a sinner. Make me like You, soften my heart, and break it for what breaks Yours. Give me a heart that sees the world the way You did. Never let me become bitter towards a person, but correct me when I find myself being selfish in the way I view a situation. Thank You for Your forgiveness for me. Keep me in that posture. Amen.