In the book, The Secret of Lasting Forgiveness, author Bruce Wilkinson addresses the “hidden connection between unforgiveness and torment.” Until we have forgiven the people who have wronged us, Wilkinson explains, we are not free; we are unable to enjoy peace. So, God draws us toward forgiveness because it’s good for the people we need to forgive—but also, and very importantly, because it’s good for us, too. Being forgiving is a better way to live because it brings the person who forgives freedom and peace.
You are likely familiar with Jesus’ stance on forgiveness. Once, when the Apostle Peter approached Jesus, asking Him how many times he needs to forgive a fellow believer who keeps offending him, Peter guesses what he thinks is a large number: seven times. But Jesus answers, “Not seven times, Peter, but seventy times seven times!” Meaning: every time. And then Jesus illustrates what he means by sharing a parable.
“The kingdom of God is like a king who decided to square accounts with his servants. As he got under way, one servant was brought before him who had run up a debt of a hundred thousand dollars. He couldn’t pay up, so the king ordered the man, along with his wife, children, and goods, to be auctioned off at the slave market. The poor wretch threw himself at the king’s feet and begged, ‘Give me a chance and I’ll pay it all back.’ Touched by his plea, the king let him off, erasing the debt.”
“The servant was no sooner out of the room when he came upon one of his fellow servants who owed him ten dollars. He seized him by the throat and demanded, ‘Pay up. Now!’ The poor wretch threw himself down and begged, ‘Give me a chance and I’ll pay it all back.’ But he wouldn’t do it. He had him arrested and put in jail until the debt was paid. When the other servants saw this going on, they were outraged and brought a detailed report to the king.”
“The king summoned the man and said, ‘You evil servant! I forgave your entire debt when you begged me for mercy. Shouldn’t you be compelled to be merciful to your fellow servant who asked for mercy?’ The king was furious and put the screws to the man until he paid back his entire debt.” But that’s not the end, because Jesus then adds these words: “that’s exactly what my Father in heaven is going to do to each one of you who doesn’t forgive unconditionally anyone who asks for mercy.”
Wow. There is no easy way around this, is there?
Come, listen to “Heart of Forgiveness.”