Mathew 18: 21-35
21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.[g]
23 “Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24 As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold[h] was brought to him. 25 Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt. 26 “At this the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ 27 The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go. 28 “But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins.[i] He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded. 29 “His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’ 30 “But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. 31 When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened. 32 “Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. 33 Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ 34 In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed. 35 “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”
Forgive: 1. stop feeling angry or resentful toward someone for an offense, flaw, or mistake
2. Cancel (a debt)
Looking at the scripture in Mathew, we see a servant with a very large debt, one that he can not repay. His situation is hopeless. The king, however, decides to have mercy on him and cancel the debt. The debt is totally wiped clean! The servant and the king are now able to have a fresh beginning. Both have the opportunity to walk in the freedom of a new spirit. Forgiveness is healing, both for the victim and the offender. However, if you continue reading, the “victim” or servant, when put in the same role as the king, did not offer the same grace to his offender. When the king becomes aware that the servant did not show the same mercy to his offender, the king is furious! The king revoked the forgiven debt and demanded the servant be tortured.
The Bible shows us that the measure to which we forgive is the measure that will be used to forgive us. In the parable, the king represents our Heavenly Father and we are the servant. Those that have offended us are our fellow servants. When we don’t forgive, we imprison others in the depths of guilt and condemnation. As the victim, the enemy of our soul continuously torments us with resentment and vengeance, demanding that the offender repay a debt that we know, ourselves, we can never repay. It’s a vicious cycle. We have met people, ourselves included, that are tormented by the very things they refuse not to forgive in others. We’re making the enemy’s job very easy for him. So, in essence, our battle is not with the one who wronged us but with the eternal enemy of our soul.
I know for some, forgiveness seems impossible. The offense may have been horrific. Forgiveness is not condoning what was done to us or accepting someone’s bad behavior. Forgiveness is an intentional choice and our first step to freedom. It is not something that comes naturally. We have to practice…sometimes over and over again. It is also the most important step to achieve healing. It frees us from bitterness, resentment and releases us from guilt, as well as, gives pardon to those who have offended us. Forgiveness is not a feeling of immediate satisfaction. As a matter of fact, I have woken up on more than one occasion and have had to remind myself that I have forgiven my offender.
The really difficult thing to swallow is when your offender doesn’t even know that he/she has done anything to offend you. It’s totally lost on them! That’s when you may have to forgive by proxy. Forgive by proxy? What does that mean? It means that you have to forgive that particular person and accept that they may never realize how they have hurt you. The way I have forgiven by proxy is this:
- Set up 2 chairs facing each other with you in one of the chairs.
- In the empty chair, place a piece of paper on the chair with the person’s name.
- Talk to the chair as if the person was sitting in front of you.
- Walk out the forgiveness that you gave to that person as if they heard every word.
Sound crazy? Maybe. Does it work? Yes!
The most valuable and beautiful gift we can give ourselves is to forgive that person that has hurt or offended us. True healing begins with the words, “I forgive you.”