Walnut Grove Church
Forgiveness: It’s not an Option
By Kurt Bomar
Have you been hurt by someone so deeply that you don’t think you have the capacity to forgive them? No doubt evil people do evil things to good people and they aren’t worth forgiving. But is that the issue?
In the Jewish culture their system of bankruptcy was to sell themselves to their creditor and work off the debt. God had an interesting rule he wanted his people to follow regarding this practice. No matter what the debt was, as the end of every seven years, the creditors were to release the debtors. This would give even those with huge debts an opportunity to start over.
During Jeremiah’s time, King Zedekiah initially honored this, but look what then happened:
Jer. 34:10 So all the officials and people who entered into this covenant agreed that they would free their male and female slaves and no longer hold them in bondage. They agreed, and set them free. 11 But afterward they changed their minds and took back the slaves they had freed and enslaved them again. 12 Then the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah: … 15 “Recently you repented and did what is right in my sight: Each of you proclaimed freedom to your own people. You even made a covenant before me in the house that bears my Name. 16 But now you have turned around and profaned my name; each of you has taken back the male and female slaves you had set free to go where they wished. You have forced them to become your slaves again.”
Because they broke the covenant and this was the response:
17 “Therefore this is what the LORD says: You have not obeyed me; you have not proclaimed freedom to your own people. So, I now proclaim ‘freedom’ for you, declares the LORD–‘freedom’ to fall by the sword, plague and famine. I will make you abhorrent to all the kingdoms of the earth.
This tells me God is serious about our obligation to forgive. He released us from the penalty of every sin in our lives. Therefore, we are to forgive others.
Jesus confirmed this command in one of his parables. In Matthew 18 he tells of a man who was released by the king from a debt of millions of dollars but when he ran across another who owed him a few dollars he demanded payment on the spot or threatened debtors prison. When the king got wind of this his whole attitude changed. “Because I forgave you a large amount you should have forgiven a small amount”. Then he had the man cast into prison until the debt was paid in full.
But how could the man pay such a large debt while earning prison wages? He couldn’t. There was only one-way out of prison: he had to die.
If we apply this story to our lives we see that no matter what has been done to us by others, it’s incomparable to the debt we owe our heavenly Father. Every sin we have ever committed was forgiven because of what Jesus did for us on the cross (that’s the multi-million-dollar debt). Therefore, it is imperative that we forgive others their relatively puny debt. It’s amazing how their offense to us shrinks in size when we look at our offense to God.
How do we do it from a practical standpoint? How do we get out of the prison of bitterness and judgment, depression and criticism? There’s only one-way out: we have to die. We have to die to ourselves and our disappointments, disillusionments and discouragement. We have to say, “Lord, I’ve been forgiven so much. Help me to die to what others have said about me or done to me.”
When you say that by faith, don’t be surprised if tomorrow you want to “take back” your offer of forgiveness. Just remember it’s a bleeding off process. It will take time. But to take back the forgiveness puts you in the same position the Jews were in in King Zedekiah’s time and we know how God feels about that. To “keep on forgiving” keeps us out of our prison and honors our Father at the same time.
Selah (think about it)
Pastor Kurt Bomar, Walnut Grove Church
Come join us Sundays at 11:00