Are you experiencing any of the following in your life?
- Someone mentions a certain person and your muscles tense and you have a sick feeling in the pit of your stomach.
- There is a continual pain in your heart that never seems to go away no matter what you do.
- You carry anger and bitterness toward those who have hurt you.
- You wish the person who hurt would die.
- You have vowed that you will never forgive _____ for what they did to you
- You can’t seem to get free from thinking of the person who hurt you. It’s like you are tied together at the hip.
You may be in a self-made prison of unforgiveness that will keep you bound and wounded. Jesus offers you a key to unlock the door of your prison, so you can emerge free and healed. This article will show you the pathway to freedom Jesus offers you.
This post is the third part of a three-part series. To get the full impact of this teaching, I suggest that you read part 1 and part 2 of this post or listen to episode 42 and episode 43 before continuing this article.
I want to take the parable that we looked at last week and apply it personally to your life. Jesus told this story to help you see that you must be a forgiving person. I am going to use the same headlines as last week so we can relate to the parable.
A Time to Settle Accounts
The Lord is coming to you and it is time to settle accounts with you. This is not at the end of the age. We are talking about right now as you read this post. The Lord is coming to settle accounts.
He’s not coming to tell you that you owe Him money. He is looking at your life to see where you are spiritually. He is seeing if you know Him and have a personal relationship with Him. He is looking at how you are living your life.
He is coming to do what David asked God to do in Psalm 139:23-24:
Search me, O Lord, and know my heart; try me and know my anxious thoughts; and see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way.
David was entrusting himself to God because He knew that God was for Him and would help him. He asked God to point out anything in his life that was harmful to him and asked God to show him His way that leads to life.
God knows everything. He knows everything you’ve done, everything that’s been done to you, every thought that has passed through your mind, and every wound you carry in your heart.
I’m not sure how you respond to what I call God’s spotlight. It is those times where God comes with His spotlight and shines it on an area of your life that you need to do something about. God knows it exists and wants to bring it to the light so you can get rid of it.
God’s spotlight used to terrify me. When he turned it on I felt condemned and so unworthy because I was caught up in performance. I would try to run away and hide from the light because I was miserably failing God once again.
Over time my mind began to change. I began to learn that God was not shining His spotlight on my issue to judge or condemn me. He was shining the light to point out an area He wanted to heal and bring freedom.
I started learning that when God starts shining the light I was going to experience more of His life. I began to thank the Lord for doing this and pressed nearer to God to get that part of my life under His grace and mercy.
It is my hope that as you read this post the Lord will bring things to your mind that He wants to touch in your life. He knows you the best. He loves you the most. He wants you to be healed and whole. Whatever the Lord shows you, bring it to Him for He is your healer.
An Unpayable Debt
The servant in the parable owed a debt that he could never repay. He knew it. No matter how hard he tried, there was absolutely nothing He could to repay the king. The king knew it too, that is why he was sending him to prison.
Do you know Jesus Christ as Lord? Have you trusted in Christ for your salvation? Have you confessed and repented your sins to Him? If you have, you have been forgiven an unpayable debt.
You could never pay for your sins. Nothing you could do would ever be able to make you alive in God or cleanse you from what you’ve done. But God did it. He forgave you and cleansed you through the shed blood of Jesus Christ. You are forgiven. You are alive in Him.
A Merciful King
The mercy of God is beyond comprehension. The reason being is that God didn’t have to give us mercy. We rebelled against God. We were helpless and ungodly (Romans 5:6). We were enemies of God (Romans 5:10). We were dead in our trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1).
God could have left us this way and been just in doing so. His great love for us would not allow it. He saw us in our helpless condition and felt mercy for us.
4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. (Ephesians 2:4-10)
God’s great love bestowed upon us His great mercy.
The only time we ask for mercy is when we know that we are in the wrong and don’t deserve it. Just like the king forgave his servant all of his debts, God had forgiven us. But God went way beyond that and gave us grace.
Mercy deals with the punishment we deserve. Grace deals with the blessing we have not earned. God goes way beyond the king in this parable. He gives us untold blessings and riches as a free gift to us through Jesus Christ. Here are a few:
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ (Ephesians 1:3)
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, (1 Peter 1:3-4)
2 Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; 3 seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.4 For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust. (2 Peter 1:2-4)
Forgiveness is costly
Even though everything that God gives us through His grace and mercy is free to us, It is very costly. It cost Jesus His life.
God loves us so much that He sent Jesus to die on our behalf. Jesus loves us so much that He came and suffered all that He endured so that we might be saved. The Holy Spirit loves us so much that He comes to live in us, makes us spiritually alive, and empowers us to live a life that glorifies God.
One passage that sums up what took place is Isaiah 53. As you read this notice what God and Jesus did in their mercy for you.
1 Who has believed our message?
And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
2 For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot,
And like a root out of parched ground;
He has no stately form or majesty
That we should look upon Him,
Nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him.
3 He was despised and forsaken of men,
A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;
And like one from whom men hide their face
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.
4 Surely our griefs He Himself bore,
And our sorrows He carried;
Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten of God, and afflicted.
5 But He was pierced through for our transgressions,
He was crushed for our iniquities;
The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him,
And by His scourging we are healed.
6 All of us like sheep have gone astray,
Each of us has turned to his own way;
But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all
To fall on Him.
7 He was oppressed and He was afflicted,
Yet He did not open His mouth;
Like a lamb that is led to slaughter,
And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers,
So He did not open His mouth.
8 By oppression and judgment He was taken away;
And as for His generation, who considered
That He was cut off out of the land of the living
For the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke was due?
9 His grave was assigned with wicked men,
Yet He was with a rich man in His death,
Because He had done no violence,
Nor was there any deceit in His mouth.
10 But the Lord was pleased
To crush Him, putting Him to grief;
If He would render Himself as a guilt offering,
He will see His offspring,
He will prolong His days,
And the good pleasure of the Lord will prosper in His hand.
11 As a result of the anguish of His soul,
He will see it and be satisfied;
By His knowledge the Righteous One,
My Servant, will justify the many,
As He will bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great,
And He will divide the booty with the strong;
Because He poured out Himself to death,
And was numbered with the transgressors;
Yet He Himself bore the sin of many,
And interceded for the transgressors.
The Unmerciful Servant
Now comes the most important application of the parable. It is time to look in your heart. It’s time to be 100% truthful. Is there anyone in your life that you need to forgive?
Grab a piece of paper and a pencil and find a comfortable place to sit. Ask the Lord if there is anyone you need to forgive. Write the names of every person the Lord brings to your mind.
It doesn’t matter how small and insignificant an event was or how huge and frightening it may be. Write down each and every name the Lord brings to your mind. Make sure your list is as complete as possible.
Now it is time to make a decision. Will you forgive every person God has shown you?
Before you make a decision, please read the next section of this post. It is such a vital part of why you can forgive.
The Just King
This is the second best news of the parable. The first is that you are totally forgiven by God and a recipient of His great love and blessing. You are forgiven. You have everything for life and godliness in Christ.
The second is that God will hold those who hurt you accountable before Him for what they have done to you. Just like the unmerciful servant was called to account for his actions, so will those who have sinned against you.
It is on the basis of God’s rich mercy of forgiving you completely and the fact that Justice will be served that you can freely forgive those who have sinned against you.
God has given you incredible mercy and He desires that you forgive others as you have been forgiven. It may be difficult to forgive someone and release all the feelings to God, but He will help you.
Just as God was merciful and gracious to free you from your sin. He will graciously give you the strength and ability to forgive those who hurt you. You no longer have to allow the past to control the present. You can be free.
A Shocking Declaration
The choice is yours. God always gives you the choice to obey His word or choose your own way. Will you forgive everyone of everything? Will you release each person and event into the hands of God for His final judgment?
Jesus warns you of the results of unforgiveness. If you refuse to forgive, God will turn you over to the tormentors. You will carry along with you the hurt and pain of the past. Bitterness will affect not only you but those around you. You will never be free from the past while you continue to hold onto it.
How to Get Out of Prison
Below is the complete process to help you forgive those who hurt you. It includes the writing down of names of those who hurt you.
I encourage you to set aside some time to do this exercise. Get a piece of paper and ask the Lord everyone you need to forgive.
- Write every name the Lord brings to your mind. Don’t stop writing until the names stop coming to your mind.
- Wait a moment and then ask the Lord if there is anyone else. It does not matter how small or big the offense against you.
- Choose to forgive each person for what they have done to you, one by one. Ask the Lord to help you be a forgiving person.
- Do the following for each person on your list.
- Choose to forgive them by name.
- Say the specific things for which you are forgiving them. Don’t say a generic prayer. They did specific things to hurt you, forgive them specifically. For example, “I forgive my mom for knowing about but not stopping the sexual abuse of my father.”
- Release them to the Lord
- Thank the Lord for forgiving you and helping you to be a forgiving person
Here is a sample prayer to help guide you if you need help:
I choose to forgive __(name)__ for ____(specific thing)_____ (as many times as necessary). I no longer hold anything against ___(name)___ I choose to release ___(him/her)___ into Your hands as righteous judge.
Going through this list may bring up some painful memories. Invite the Lord into the situation. Give Him each and every painful emotion you are experiencing. Don’t ask Him to take them away, give them to Him. Once you have given Him every hurt ask Him to heal your heart.
Thank God for your great gifts.
P.S. If the Lord has touched your heart in a great way through this post, leave a comment and tell us how your life has changed.
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