Summary: Unforgiveness keeps us in chains and blocks us from peace and joy...It paralyzes and holds us captive. When we choose to forgive, we are set free from bitterness and hate. We are set free!
Please Release Me
“Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.” The first few words of this chapter say, “Since you have been raised to new life with Christ...” This is written to those who have received God’s grace and have chosen to live a life of righteousness. Upon accepting God’s grace, too often we still keep ourselves in captivity by our own bitterness. We choose to hold grudges and fail to love others as we are called to do and live with hard hearts...We fail to forgive.
In the Old Testament, the primary Hebrew word is calach (saw-lah) and it means to forgive or to pardon.
Forgiveness is a fundamental part of our existence as believers and comes from the heart.
God doesn’t forgive us on our merit or acts of penance, but only according to His grace just as the Apostle Paul writes in Ephesians 1:7 “God is so rich in kindness and grace that He purchased our freedom with the blood of His Son and forgave our sins.” When we fail to forgive, we deny ourselves freedom to live in God’s mercy and grace. Jesus shares the parable of the Unforgiving Servant in Matthew 18:23-35 to teach about forgiveness. This lesson compares the enormous debt we owe to God with the smallest of debts others may owe to us.
“Therefore, the Kingdom of Heaven can be compared to a king who decided to bring his accounts up to date with servants who had borrowed money from him. In the process, one of his debtors was brought in who owed him millions of dollars. He couldn’t pay, so his master ordered that he be sold—along with his wife, his children, and everything he owned—to pay the debt. “But the man fell down before his master and begged him, ‘Please, be patient with me, and I will pay it all.’ Then his master was filled with pity for him, and he released him and forgave his debt. “But when the man left the king, he went to a fellow servant who owed him a few thousand dollars. He grabbed him by the throat and demanded instant payment. “His fellow servant fell down before him and begged for a little more time. ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it,’ he pleaded. But his creditor wouldn’t wait. He had the man arrested and put in prison until the debt could be paid in full. “When some of the other servants saw this, they were very upset. They went to the king and told him everything that had happened. Then the king called in the man he had forgiven and said, ‘You evil servant! I forgave you that tremendous debt because you pleaded with me. Shouldn’t you have mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you?’ Then the angry king sent the man to prison to be tortured until he had paid his entire debt. “That’s what my heavenly Father will do to you if you refuse to forgive your brothers and sisters from your heart.”
Jesus makes it plain and simple that to be forgiven, we to first forgive others. He knows we all need forgiveness and it’s by God's grace we are forgiven. Living a life in grace nourishes us. It enables us to live in harmony with others. People are so hard to love and forgive. Because we are human and forgiveness is not in our nature.
When someone wrongs us, we tend to hold grudges, but grudges are very harmful to our lives as Christians. When we fail to forgive we are only hurting ourselves. I like the saying, “Holding a grudge is like drinking poison and hoping the other person dies.” An unforgiving heart is a form of hate...It’s like a cancer of the soul that festers until it consumes the spirit. When we choose not to forgive, we miss out on the spiritual blessings God has in store for us. Unforgiveness keeps us in chains and blocks us from peace and joy...It paralyzes and holds us captive. When we choose to forgive, we are set free from bitterness and hate. We are set free!
There is an old Hank Williams tune with the title, “Take these chains from my heart and set me free.” When we choose to hold to grudges and not forgive, we are living in chains. We need to be set free.