Did you know that you can bring torment upon yourself?
Examine the scripture above giving close consideration to the last verse. Christ said “So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.”
I can’t begin to tell you how many times I have said “I forgive” not realizing that the words were empty because I didn’t release the person in my heart. Christ doesn’t simply give the instruction for us to forgive our brothers, but he makes reference of where that forgiveness must come from: the heart.
I recently came to the realization of my shortcoming when I tried to rekindle a friendship that went sour, due to past disagreements. No matter how hard I tried and willed myself to rebuild my friendship I always managed to run into the proverbial brick wall that brought an overwhelming amount of hurt and resentment to the forefront of my emotions.
When I first started going to the church I currently attend, I was befriended by a young woman who could have well been my friend from childhood. We hit it off instantly! We both have fun, bubbly personalities, we have many similarities in different areas, we’re both in ministry together and our love for God is second to none. I was happy. Unfortunately as time went on we had some disagreements. Of course, being the good “Christians” that we were, we sat down, had a short talk about the issues and “forgave” each other, promising to work on re-establishing our friendship.
Looking back now, I realize what I did was portray an attitude of forgiveness through my words and actions but I never released my friend from my heart. I don’t have to tell you that our friendship didn’t survive much longer. Communication between us broke down, I stopped visiting her home, we never went anywhere together anymore and having to say hello at church became a task I dreaded. I remember looking at my friend and feeling miserable at times because I wanted our friendship to return to the way it was but I couldn’t fathom a way to change the situation between us.
Thankfully God was looking at the situation and saw our hearts. Through Godly counsel and guidance my friend and I decided to give the friendship another whirl and see how things would work out. During that time the revelation of the scripture above came to life for me and God began to show me what I was doing wrong.
Although I SAID to my friend “I forgive you”, I didn’t forget or let go of what she did to hurt me. In my heart I held on to everything that caused me pain and I would reference those things and use them as a red flag to stop me from getting close to her. In Verse 27 of the above scripture we see that the King forgave the servant his debt. This meant the servant would no longer have to pay what was owed. Not because the king “forgot” about the debt in a literal sense, but because he was no longer going to make reference to or remind the servant of what was borrowed and once owed.
Eureka! I needed to let go of my hurt to the point that I could stop making reference to it; in order to free my heart from the burden of it was carrying.
As you read through the scripture above that the servant whom the king pardoned brought torment upon his self when he refused to forgive someone who owed him a debt. Although the first servant was forgiven initially, his unwillingness to forgive his servant caused him to be released unto His tormenters until his former debt was completely repaid.
This is where you and I come in; in the final verse of Matthew 18 Christ said
“So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, FROM HIS HEART, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.”
That, my friend, is a sobering statement! If you and I don’t learn to forgive those who have wronged us from our hearts we will inflict torment upon ourselves.
God doesn’t require lip service from us; he looks at our hearts to know our true intentions. He knows that we are capable of “acting right” with impurity in our hearts and that is why He examines our hearts and not our actions.
For our own sakes I suggest that we take the time, ever so often and examine the condition of our hearts. Our next breakthrough could be dependent on how quickly we are willing to truly forgive that person or those persons who would have hurt or wronged us. With all the challenges we already face in our daily lives does it make sense adding more turmoil to the mix because of a disagreement or misunderstanding?
I think not.