Forgiveness. We all need to use it. We have all been hurt, and we have all hurt others.
Personally, these past few months have been challenging. I have struggled in some of my relationships with others, and the outcome of those challenges included anxiety, anger, and sadness. I will not lie, relationships with your family, friends, and significant others are not easy.
I will not share exactly what has been taking place, but I will not deny how hurtful it can be to try and love another person well and they don’t perceive your efforts to be intentional. Or, you do not feel as if your efforts are being reciprocated.
Recently, I was blessed with a spiritual mentor whom I currently meet with each week, and from the conversations I have had with her, I have grown not only spiritually but also emotionally and relationally. I have chosen to go through a relationship study with her which discusses how we can love people well who are different from us and how we can forgive from the heart even when it is hard. Last week, we discussed forgiveness, and how appropriate of a time it was to discuss that.
In the study, we reviewed Matthew 18:21-35. This is a parable Jesus tells about what happens to the Unforgiving Debtor. Below is the text from the NIV Version of Matthew 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.[a] 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[b] 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.[c] 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.”
Reading this passage, I was convicted. I approach the Lord in prayer almost every day, and I continually ask for His forgiveness. Yet, am I forgiving those who hurt me?
As I considered this more, I realized that there were wounds that I was not letting go of. I was holding on to how I had been hurt by my family, friends, and other relationships over the years, but I was not holding onto it intentionally. Rather, I was holding on to the hurt because I was trying to fix all of it by myself. How draining and unhealthy is that?! Either way, I was like the first servant in this parable, and those that have hurt me were like the second servant. I, the first servant, owed debt (the outcomes, decisions, etc. of my sinful nature) to God, but he forgave me of my debt. However, I am holding those relationships that had hurt me captive and was not forgiving those who had done wrong against me. This realization was saddening but humbling.
God sent his son to Earth to die for my sins so that I could be in a relationship with Him and allow him to take on my burdens and wounds. Therefore, I can forgive those who have hurt me and trust God to heal those relationships. I need to let go of my desire to have control over everything and simply allow God to work within those relationships.
Letting go is not easy, especially for me. I feel vulnerable when I let go because I feel as if I am losing control. However, when letting go, God becomes in control, and everything is strong through God. He has proven this to me in so many different ways, so why do I keep struggling with trying to have control over my life?
I challenge you to consider some of the questions below that the study proposed and that I asked myself:
- Why are you sometimes like the first servant?
- Why is it hard for you to forgive others?
- How can the holy spirit help us to forgive others?
If you are also interested in this study, download the Thrive app!