One of the hardest things for us to do is to forgive someone who has wronged us. It’s also one of the most liberating things to do. The Bible is full of examples of people who forgave, people who didn’t and why we should. That doesn’t change the fact that it is difficult to do when it comes down to it. Letting go of a wrong seems unnatural. It seems like if I am wronged, I should hold it over their heads forever because of the pain they inflicted. The problem with that is that it becomes all we think about and we become bitter.
We’ve all prayed “The Lord’s Prayer”. We know the line that says, “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.” We’ve prayed that line in the King James Version all of our lives, but have we really meant it or understood it. The Amplified Version uses these words to enhance the word forgive: left, remitted, let go of the debts and have given up resentment against (our debtors). The last thing Jesus said there was that we were to give up the resentment we hold against those who have trespassed against us.
Immediately after saying amen in the prayer, Jesus started talking about the forgiveness He mentioned in the prayer. He knew that the rest of the prayer was relatively easy to say and live by. He understood that the one part of the prayer that was our responsibility was the hardest to swallow. So He attacked it straight on before anyone could speak. The Message writes it best. Jesus said in Matthew 6:14-15, “In prayer there is a connection between what God does and what you do. You can’t get forgiveness from God, for instance, without also forgiving others. If you refuse to do your part, you cut yourself off from God’s part.”
He put every bit of that on us. We can’t get forgiveness unless we forgive. We have the option to grant or refuse forgiveness. We just have to understand that when we refuse it, we are also refusing God’s forgiveness for our sins. That’s a bold way to approach the subject of forgiveness and how important it is to God. He used a gentler approach in a parable where a man owed a huge debt. He was thrown in prison for the rest of his life because he couldn’t pay it. He threw himself at the kings mercy and was granted forgiveness. He walked out of the prison and went to a guy who owed him a couple of dollars, and threw him in prison for not paying it.
When the man begged for mercy just like he had done with the King, he refused it. When the King heard that the same man who had been forgiven was treating someone else so poorly, he ordered that he be thrown into prison too. If he couldn’t show the same compassion and forgiveness he had received, he wasn’t worthy of it. Jesus again underscored the importance of us forgiving others and linked it to God forgiving us. We must let go of the resentment we’ve been holding onto in order to not cut ourselves off from God’s forgiveness. When you truly let it go, it will be one of the most liberating experiences of your life.