Forgiveness is Hard!October 25, 2023
Release!November 8, 2023
“Man, I am so angry with her. What she did was despicable, don’t you agree?” Before I could answer, my friend got this sort of twisted grin on his face and said, “And I’ve figured out just the right way to really pay her back. I’m going to tie myself up emotionally, block my spiritual flow, and destroy any peace and joy I might have. And if I start to forget, I’m going to remind myself so I can get stressed out about it all over again. That will get her!”
I started to question the wisdom of such an approach, but he cut me off. “I’m telling you I’m going to lose sleep, stew in my anger, stress myself out, and maybe even get an ulcer. I’ll show her. I won’t let her get away with this. She’s going to pay for what she did!”
What a splendid plan! Okay, he didn’t actually say those things. But he was living them out … with a passion. And he is not alone, is he?
A survey on worry reports that only 8% of our worries are actually worth our attention. Health issues—real or imagined—account for 10%; other people’s problems account for 12%; things from the past that we can’t let go of? 30% of our angst! The other 40% are things that never come to pass.
30%! … from things we can’t let go of.
The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant
Jesus tells the parable about a servant who was forgiven an enormous debt by his master, but …
But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded.
32Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. 33Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ 34In anger his master turned 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 from your heart.” —Matt. 18:28-35 (Bold Added)
My friend was, in his heart, choking her, and saying, “Pay back what you owe me!” Only she did not end up in prison. He did.
We are not so much punished for our sins, as we are punished by our sins. Nowhere is this more true than in the matter of withholding forgiveness. Are you still holding onto that grudge? Do they still owe you? Step right on into prison.
The familiar saying is, “Not forgiving is like drinking rat poison and waiting on the rat to die.” My friend was drinking rat poison while he eagerly waited for his rat – her – to die. All the while he was making himself sick, not her.
By the way, my friend was me.