Unforgiveness = PrisonNovember 1, 2023
QuicksandNovember 14, 2023
And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.—Mark 11:25 (Bold added)
What exactly are we doing when we forgive? We are releasing that person from any debt we are holding against them. We are saying, in essence, “You don’t owe me anything, at all, anymore.” I find it very helpful to think of forgiveness in terms of releasing. And when I release them, I am releasing myself from my own little prison of unforgiveness. Until we do so, we’ll pay for it—every last penny. And. . . it won’t cost them a dime.
“Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still with him on the way, or he may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. I tell you the truth, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.” —Matt. 5:25-26
Jesus tells us that God will not forgive us if we are not forgiving others. (Matthew 6:15) That is a troublesome thought—scary, actually. But the Greek word Matthew uses is aphiemi, which primarily means “to release.” Jesus’ message therefore is: “God will not release you from your own prison, of your own making, as long as you are holding a debt over someone else.”
Because you alone have the key. As the Gospel according to the Eagles observes:
Well, I know it wasn’t you who held me down
Heaven knows it wasn’t you who set me free
So oftentimes it happens that we live our lives in chains
And we never even know we have the key. (Eagles)
“Not Forgiving is like drinking rat poison and waiting on the rat to die.”
The solution is not to grit one’s teeth and repeat, “I will forgive, I will forgive, I will forgive!” Nor is it pure self-discipline, although the self-discipline to catch ourselves as we start to drink the rat poison is helpful.
The true solution is to ask the Holy Spirit to help you. On one occasion Jesus told the disciples they should forgive a brother or sister who has sinned against them seven times in one day. The disciples, shell-shocked at the enormity of Jesus’ statement, cried out,
The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!”—Luke 17:3
They were saying, “Jesus, we cannot possibly do that on our own! If you are going to ask this of us, you are going to have to help us. You are going to have to increase our faith.” And they were right. We cannot do this alone. As with everything in the Kingdom, we need the Holy Spirit’s power.
The hurt and the pain caused by others are real, and they were wrong to do whatever they did. Yet to release that pain is to release ourselves. And the result is freedom!
Ask the Holy Spirit to help you. Engage his power to capture those destructive thoughts and memories, so you can demolish their strongholds:
The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.—2 Cor. 10:4-5