A few days ago I was reading through Matthew 18 where I came across the parable of the unforgiving servant. Now, if you’ve been well “churched” like me, you’ve heard this story countless times. But this time as I read it, I dug in a little deeper, asking for revelation so that the old, mundane things would become new to my heart. It’s amazing what the Holy Spirit will give you if you just ask! It was nothing profound, but a thought arose within my heart that I never had before, so I thought I’d share it with you for you to ponder and ask the Holy Spirit about, too. :)
After telling the parable to His disciples, Jesus said, “So my heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.” So, what’s the “so” referring to here? What will the Father also do to us? If you look back a couple verses, you see the master of the unforgiving servant filled with anger toward his servant for what he had done, so he “delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due him.”
After reading this, I began to think of the pain and inner turmoil that comes to us when we do not forgive one who has wronged us or caused us pain. When we don’t release forgiveness, we open up the door for bitterness, anger, and frustration to take a hold of us. Now, I don’t know about you, but whenever I have held unforgiveness in my heart toward someone, I feel tormented. Though vengeance may feel good for a time, eventually bitterness and anger creep in and I am left feeling constant negative emotions, feeling like I’m in bondage.
Perhaps you’re catching on to what I’m saying here. When we don’t forgive, we live in a state of torment, just like the unforgiving servant who was given over to the torturers. But when we release that person (or those people), forgiving them from our heart, we are freed from the bonds of bitterness. We are blessed with freedom and joy, and the walls that were built up within our hearts that were hindering our intimacy with the Lord are broken down.
God has given us a free will. He has given us the freedom to choose to forgive or hold bitterness in our hearts. He will give us over to the torture of unforgiveness if that is the path we choose. But, oh how He desires that we would walk in forgiveness! Oh, how He longs to see us reflect Him and release forgiveness from our hearts, that we would walk in the joy and freedom that comes as we do! Jesus said in John 17 that He desires that we be one with Him, dwelling with Him in His presence which is where we find the fullness of joy, fullness of satisfaction, and are overcome with His jealous love that burns for us.
I want to challenge you to ask the Lord if there is anyone that you haven’t forgiven but need to. Ask Him to search your heart and reveal to you who you need to release, and then do it. When He reminds you of a person or a situation, release forgiveness. There you will be freed from the torment of bitterness and enter into the blessing of forgiveness.