Make allowance for each other’s faults, and
Forgive anyone who offends you. Remember,
The Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.
Jesus tells a parable in Matthew 18 about a king who decided to collect on all the debts owed him. One of the debtors who owed millions was called in and ordered to pay up. When he couldn’t pay, he was to be sold, him and his family. The man fell down and begged the king to give him more time and the king took pity on him and forgave him the entire debt. What an incredible story. But it doesn’t end there. The man who had just been forgiven millions didn’t get it. He also was owed money. He went a found the person and demanded payment. When this fellow servant fell down and begged for more time, rather than have compassion, he refused. He had the man thrown in jail. We read this and think how could he not forgive when he had just been forgiven an even greater debt?
Jesus is teaching the disciples the importance of forgiveness. Peter had asked how many times he needed to forgive someone who sinned against him. Seven times? Jesus said, “Not seven times, but seventy times seven. In other words, every time. When some of the other servants in the parable witnessed everything that had happened, they reported it to the king. The king brought the man back in and had him sent to prison to be tortured until his debt was paid.
The King in this story is the Father. He sent His Son, Jesus, to die for our sins. He forgave our debts of which we could never pay. Now, He expects us as His children to forgive others. And you would think it would be easy because of the forgiveness we received, but it isn’t easy. When someone sins against us or hurts us in some way, we want justice. We don’t want them to get away with what they did. We don’t want them to keep hurting us. But in essence, when we refuse to forgive, we are the ones who are not at rest. It’s like we are in a prison being tortured by our own thoughts.
Your prodigal has probably hurt you a time or two. Sometimes, their choices continue to hurt you over and over. You may not realize it, but you may be keeping a record of their wrongs. You are not willing to let them go and forgive them. You are in a prison being tortured, unable to rest or find peace with where your prodigal is at. The only option for finding peace in this situation is to hand it over to the Father and forgive them again and again. Let Him give you peace!
Or maybe you need to forgive yourself. You keep wondering what you should have done differently? Certainly if there is something you have done against them, you need to make it right and ask forgiveness. If you aren’t sure, ask God to show you if there is any way you have wronged them. But beyond that, you can’t keep blaming yourself. And you can’t “fix” it. You can only release it into the hands of the Father…every time…seventy times seven!
What’s tricky is that we love them and want them to see the truth. We don’t want to hold unforgiveness in our hearts towards them or ourselves. It may even be hard for us to recognize the unforgiveness in our hearts. Again, as God to show you. Especially if you find you can’t find rest and you feel like you are being tortured by your thoughts of them, the choices they have made, and how it makes you feel.
Forgiveness brings freedom!! It may not be easy, but it is definitely worth it!