Forgiveness is such an important key to walking in freedom as a born again Believer in Christ. I think most of us understand this in theory, but many times we do not actually apply the principle as fact.
What do I mean? Let’s first take a look at this red-letter parable…
The Parable of the Unforgiving Servant
“Then Peter came to Him and said, ‘Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?’
“Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven. Therefore the kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. And when he had begun to settle accounts, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. But as he was not able to pay, his master commanded that he be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and that payment be made. The servant therefore fell down before him, saying, “Master, have patience with me, and I will pay you all.” Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt.
“‘But that servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and he laid hands on him and took him by the throat, saying, “Pay me what you owe!” So his fellow servant fell down at his feet and begged him, saying, “Have patience with me, and I will pay you all.” And he would not, but went and threw him into prison till he should pay the debt. So when his fellow servants saw what had been done, they were very grieved, and came and told their master all that had been done. Then his master, after he had called him, said to him, “You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?” And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him.
“‘So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.’”—Matthew 18: 21-35
I know that if you are anything like Peter… or me for that matter, you’ve found yourself asking, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” There are just some people who consistently seem to test the boundaries in our lives. Often this creates a deep breech of distrust and we develop wounds that don’t easily heal.
It is in our nature as human beings to recoil when we’ve been offended or hurt by others. But still, Yeshua states above that we are responsible to forgive, even when it’s difficult and almost impossible.
What we, as born again Believers, fail to realize is that forgiveness is a powerful act of spiritual warfare. When we choose to lay down our rights to seek recompense from another, we are in fact acting as God has toward us.
When Yeshua died on the cross, He bore the judgment that was initially meant for humankind. He stood in our place so that we didn’t have to reap the benefits of our sinful nature.
Now, let me take a rabbit trail here and say that God is a righteous judge. He is justice in its purest form. There had to be consequences for our sin… BUT because of His great love for each one of us, He chose to send His Son to stand in our place. You could even say, that they both chose. Yeshua had a choice to take our punishment.
So, when we too, make a conscious choice to allow others the gift of forgiveness, even when they are totally undeserving, we are sowing the same mercy of our heavenly Father into their lives as well.
Forgiveness is NOT a feeling… it’s a choice! There may be times where you have to go to the Lord and be reminded that you chose it. Often this can be difficult and it takes time to heal from the past as we chose to move forward.
Let’s take this one step further. So many times, I see Believers who are walking in terrible guilt and shame for items from their past. Although the Word of God clearly states that they are forgiven… for some reason they continue to punish themselves by not accepting this free gift.
Recently a friend of mine was wrestling with this exact struggle. Their heart knew that they were forgiven but their head could just not allow it to be so. It wasn’t until she and I went to the Courts of Heaven together that she experienced a breakthrough.
As we met, the power of the Holy Spirit began to take over, undoing the chains that had held her captive. She couldn’t get past the fact that God had forgiven her. She actually felt that she had to earn the gift that He had extended to her. The Lord revealed that His gift of salvation was free, with no strings attached. She had a choice to accept that she was forgiven, or she could continue to hold herself captive with internal turmoil and punishment.
She chose to receive the freedom, and to acknowledge that the enemy had been lying to her. Because of this, it was her belief that she could never experience true wholeness. I’m here to tell you today, that her life has forever been changed by this one revelation.
Just like choosing to forgive others, we must remember to extend forgiveness to ourselves as well. Over and over and over… we must take our failures to the foot of the Cross, confess them to the Lord, and chose to accept His forgiveness—He is always faithful to forgive!