This year is quickly winding up — and with its ending comes reflection, on both the good and the bad.
Over the next couple of months we will take a look at all the things we accomplished, items checked off our bucket lists, and new relationships formed. Then, we’ll think of the things that didn’t get done, the 10 pounds we never lost, or the new language we didn’t learn. Somewhere in all of that, we may even reflect on the hurts we experienced.
Some of those hurts we might not even be ready to let go of yet…
A new year calls for a fresh start, a light heart, and the freedom to move on!
What better way to end the year than to get some closure and gain some peace of heart and mind?
I’ve been thinking about the power of forgiveness and how important it is for us to let go. I’m sure we’ve all heard that forgiveness is really for the one who forgives. It’s freedom from bitterness and unhealthy (even ungodly) feelings that would try to keep us bound.
It’s also necessary for salvation!
In Matthew 18, Jesus tells a parable of a king who brought a servant before him who owed him ten thousand talents. Because the man couldn’t pay his debt, the king ordered him and his family and all that they possessed to be sold in order to pay the debt.
The servant bowed before the king and begged him to be patient with him, promising that he would work and find a way to repay the debt. The king had mercy and let him go, forgiving him the debt and considering it paid in full.
Unfortunately, this servant didn’t show the same mercy to one of his peers who owed him a much smaller debt. The amount was insignificant in light of what the servant had owed the king. Yet, when the small amount couldn’t be paid, the servant demanded the debtor be thrown in prison.
In the end, the king found out and was angry, saying “Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee?” Then he “delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him.” (Matthew 33-34)
After this parable, Jesus told his disciples in verse 35, “So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.”
There is so much to learn from this parable!
First, we have been forgiven of so great a debt, how can we withhold mercy from those who have wronged us?
Just like the servant, we should have lost everything, including our lives, but Jesus forgave us and ultimately paid our debt Himself. Even now, we continue to hurt him with our actions, words, and attitudes. Yet, He is faithful and just to forgive us; over and over again.
In light of this, the hurts we suffer are often mild. Mercy and forgiveness should not be withheld. It’s an example to those around us, brings healing to our own hearts, and is in obedience to the Word of God.
Which leads me to the second point: Can we be saved if we don’t forgive?
Jesus said if we don’t forgive, we would find ourselves in the same shoes as the servant. He was delivered to the tormentors until he paid all he owed.
The wages of our sin was death, a price that Jesus paid on the cross. It’s not a debt that can be repaid.
Think about it.
If you started right now, this very moment, would you be able to ever repay Jesus for what he has already done for you?
We are debtors to Him, and we owe Him a debt we can never repay. And since He has been willing, time and time again, to forgive us of our shortcomings, how can we not return the favor to our fellowmen?
My challenge is this: Spend the last couple months of this year making things right with those around you and with God. Let go of the bitterness that may be eating at your heart. Set yourself and others free so you can start this new year with a clean slate, ready for whatever God has in store.
Show others the great mercy that we have all experienced.
Embrace the freedom found in forgiveness!