Forgive And Be Free Mathew 18:21-35
The Art Of Healing From A Deep Wound
There is a story about a fellow in the army who suffered a nasty deep gash in his leg. After the doctor had a good look at the wound, he pulled out a pan of warm water & a soft brush & began to cleanse the wound with the water, soap and the nylon brush. The cleansing of the wound was very painful.
And the soldier looked at the doctor & asked, "can't you just stitch it up without cleaning it?" The doctor replied by saying that it was necessary to clean the wound in order for it to be healed
properly. He continued to say that if it were not cleaned up, the healing process would be slow and also would be prone to becoming infected. The wound he said needs to be cleaned so that the wound would heal from the inside out.
Many of us have deep wounds that we have been carrying around for a long time. These wounds also need to be cleansed from the inside out. These wounds are so well hidden that no else can see them.
What I am talking about is the wound of "unforgiveness." We receive this nasty wound when we choose to not forgive others who have hurt us in one way or another. Un-forgiveness stems from memories that still hurt. These memories come back everyone in once a while and they still hurt. The pain that you suffer comes from memories of being ridiculed, of physical or sexual abuse, harassment, etc.
The problem here is that many of us have buried these hurts deep down within and have never told anyone about it. You think about it often and it festers inside like an open gash that has never been allowed to heal properly.
The question is, do you want to be healed? Or do you want to continue on for the rest of your life always being angry with someone who has hurt you.
Do you want to continue on for the rest of your life in pain?
There is a way to be healed from the inside out. We need to let Doctor Jesus take the Holy Ghost brush, using the water and soap of His Word & blood to cleanse those hidden wounds that have become infected.
There are two universal truths about life.
1) It is almost safe to say that everybody has a hidden wound, of
some sort, even though they may be masking it well, it is still there
2) The second truth is that emotional scars take a lot longer to
heal than physical wounds.
Ask any Vietnam Vet. Many have come home with missing arms and legs.
But, try to talk to them about the horrors of war, which they have witnessed.
They will tell you that they have terrible dreams for many years, which haunt them day and night.
Such is the deep, deep wound of not forgiving others. If allowed, it will scar you for life.
Please allow me to give you 8 characteristics of an unforgiving person. See for yourself if any or all of these characteristics fits you. If any, or all sounds like you, it could be that you have been
wounded and are in need of healing.
Bitterness by the way is a character trait of un-forgiveness.
Here are the 8 characteristics of an unforgiving person.
1) A bitter person cares very little for the person he is bitter
2) He is very touchy.
3) Can be ungrateful.
4) Gives empty flattery & harsh criticism.
5) Holds grudges.
6) He displays stubbornness or a sulky attitude.
7) He will help no one or complains sometimes when asked to help.
8) Experiences mood swings, high and low.
What does it feel like when you do not forgive another whom has hurt or offended you? You may feel intimidated by their presence. You may feel a sickness in your stomach whenever you think of them. You may wince at the mere mention of their name.You may feel a sudden welt of anger swell at the sight of them.
You figure after a time that the pain will go away, like the adage " Time is a good healer." But in fact, the pain is still there and some times gets worse.
Why is this? Because you have not forgiven them from the heart.
God calls on us to forgive, or He will not forgive you your sins.
Some of the ways in which we deal with a hidden hurt is to:
Grumble, complain & gossip.
Another way is to mull over the situation over & over & over again allowing the pain to get worse & worse.
Another way is to bury the pain, pretend it does not exist.
By doing this you have built up for yourself a defensive position,
a stronghold in which by mental & emotional means you feel protected from the one, whom have hurt you,
Or from others like them.
You say things to yourself like:
I'll never get involved with that person again. (or)
He let me down real bad. I'll never do business with him again.
The problem with building up for yourself a defensive stronghold is that it becomes your very own prison, in which you have locked yourself within, and the key is just on the other side of the wall, just slightly out of reach.
Another maybe more common way of dealing with offense is to get even.
You hurt me, I'll hurt you. That's the American way after all, is it not?
That's like what Elvis Presley said in a movie I watched many years ago.
He said: "Do unto others as they would have done unto you, except do it first.
The only problem with these options when dealing with hurt is that one gets bitter on the inside, rather than getting better, & getting healed. The poison of bitterness festers like an opened wound and never really heals properly, and spreads like cancer. Rather than getting better, the unforgiving person gets worse and more and more bitter.
Heb. 12:14 & 15 tells us to "Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled." (King James Version)
One of the main causes of bitterness is insecurity within our lives where the seeds of offence are allowed to take root, and bear poisonous fruit.The results of allowing the root of bitterness, sown by the seed of un-forgiveness is mental, emotional & physical sickness and following that is afflictions of many kinds.
God has a cure, a way to dig out the roots and provide us with internal security, that we not be offended again. Let us see if we cannot understand a few principles of forgiveness.
Chapter 5-7 of Matthew has been rightly called the "Manifesto of the Kingdom", where Jesus spells out what life is like for the citizens in the Kingdom of God. Within this Manifesto is contained what is commonly referred to as "The Lord's Prayer."
Let us read together the Lord's Prayer. Matt. 6:9-15
In verse 12 we have the word debt, or debts. The sense behind this word is to "that which is legally due." And likewise in the word " debtor" we have the sense of one that has not yet made amends to one whom has injured another in one manner or another. Jesus makes it quite clear in these verses, that, if we do not forgive, then God will also not forgive us.
Elsewhere in scripture & a little later in the chronological life of Jesus one of the disciples approaches Jesus & asks Him to "teach us to pray." (Luke 11:1 King James Version).
If you read Luke 11:4 you read: "And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil." (King James Version)
The word sin here translated from the Greek word " hamartia", has the sense of "Failing to reach the mark." God likewise sets up for us a standard by which we all miss the mark. When we miss this mark, it is called sin.
We to, inwardly set standards of how we feel others should treat us.
When others fail to reach that mark, we have the sense that we are owed something for being offended against, or to re-phrase it, we are sinned against. And according to Jesus, sin needs to be dealt with. John writes in 1 John 1:9: If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (King James Version)
Do you see the problem here? There is an implication in these verses that if we do not forgive those who have offended us (whom are indebted to us), we still have sin in our heart, because the Lord has not forgiven us, for not forgiving others. And if we still have sin in our heart, there is no cleansing.
In Luke 6:35-37 Jesus again gives us more practical teaching about how to handle "Offense." He says: "But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil. Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful. Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven." (King James Version)
The Greek word " apoluo" (ap-ol-oo'-o) used here for forgive in verse 37 literally means to "free fully". Other words used are " to relieve, release, dismiss, let die, pardon, let go, loose, put or send away, set at liberty.
The context then is to not just forgive, but to release them of the debt owed you.
Now, lets read the next verse. Luke 6:38 "Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again." (King James Version)
Many have mistakenly thought that this verse is talking about money, which perhaps may fit.
But taken in context with the above verses of forgiving the thought becomes complete. In essence Jesus is saying that if you want to be forgiven, you yourself must forgive. If you want to be released you to must release those whom have hurt you and those whom have mistreated you. In the same measure that you forgive, God will likewise forgive you.
There are very many Christians walking about with un-forgiveness in their heart and cannot understand why their spiritual life has become so stale and why they do not seem to be growing spiritually.
Perhaps you are one of those people here tonight. Perhaps you do not even realize that you have been walking around for years without ever having forgiven someone whom has offended you. It might be a good idea to pray right now, this very moment & ask the Holy Spirit to point out to you where your heart truly is at.
And if you find that you are in need of forgiving someone, why not pray now asking God first of all to forgive you, then go out this evening and forgive the one who has offended you.
THE UNFORGIVING SERVANT Matthew 18:21- 35
In Matthew 18 Jesus tells a parable to explain what he had just told Peter about forgiveness. This parable is about settling accounts.
When others have hurt us we want to settle accounts by doing onto them what they have done to us.
Let us read verses 21 & 22 first Was Jesus saying that we should only forgive one 490 times, then on the 491st time smack them? No, he was saying that there is no limit to the number of times that we should forgive others who have done us wrong. Nor is He saying that we need to keep on forgiving the same person for the same offense over and over again. If you keep forgiving someone for the same offense, then you never really forgave him or her to begin with.
Does God keep account of sins? Again 1 John 1:9: "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (King James Version)
Does God keep a record of all the times you have committed the same sins? Does He sit up there on His throne and say there's so & so, smoking again. I had better write that down and add it to the long list I already have. Boy, I tell you, if He kept a record of all our sins, we would sure be in some real trouble. No, God is not like that. Once we are forgiven, we are eternally forgiven. We are released; we are set free from the penalty of sins when confessed.
Likewise as we shall see in the following parable, forgiveness keeps no record, no account. True forgiveness forgives each time just as if it was the first time.
Let us read the parable of the unforgiving servant Matthew 18:23-35
Let me point out 5 things in regard to this parable.
1) The king knew fair well that the servant couldn't pay back what he owed. The parable is teaching a truth about our relationship with God& with others. We are in fact the servants who owed the king the ten thousand talents. And like the servant in the parable, we are unable to pay what we owe as a result of our sin. We as Christians call out to God for forgiveness and for mercy.
2) The king had compassion on this fellow and forgave him the debt. To truly forgive this man the debt owed, he had to totally release the man completely from the debt owed. If the king had merely just forgiven the servant, he would still owe the outstanding debt. And therefore the king would be able, at any time to say, come on pay up. For this man to experience true forgiveness he had to be released completely from the debt.
3) From the text we can likely surmise correctly, that the forgiven servant had already been owed money to him by the second servant of our story. Likewise, there were people whom had offended you before you became a Christian, whom you think, still have an outstanding debt to you. Have you forgiven them? Or do you still hold them to that debt you feel owed by them? Do you still harbor un-forgiveness over them?
4) It can be inferred from this parable also, that the king would have expected the forgiven servant to have mercy upon any whom owed him money. Was he merciful towards his servant? No! Did he forgive & release this second servant from the debt owed him? No! Again, are you still holding onto un-forgiveness to someone who has owed you since before you were born again? Or are you going to settle accounts here and now and release them of the debt you feel owed from them?
5) Lastly, the unforgiving servant was handed over to the torturers to extract every penny that was owed to the king. Jesus likewise promises that God the Father will likewise hold us to accounts if we do not forgive others from the heart.
SO HOW DO YOU SETTLE ACCOUNTS?
HOW DO YOU GET HEALED FROM DEEP WOUNDS?
The 1rst order of business is to do business with God.
You need to pray & ask the Holy Spirit to open up your heart & mind, to point out to you, areas of your life where you have been hurt and not truly forgiven. You need to ask God to allow you to become connected to that hurt that you have buried deep inside. This is the only way in fact in which you will be able to truly forgive from the heart, if you can identify the source of that hurt.
This must not be merely just an intellectual exercise. Because if you have forgiven only on a mental level, but leave the emotional level unchanged. Then all you have succeeded in doing is to satisfy yourself that you have done the right thing. But the pain in your heart remains, and you will not be healed.
Pride perhaps has been the reason why you haven't been able to forgive. If this is the case, then you will have to pray and repent of the sin of pride as well.
The next thing that you need to do is to make an invoice.
Write down on a piece of paper all the people whom have hurt you.
Write down exactly what it is that they have done to hurt you. Don't generalize, be specific. For example, don't write dad was a pain in my backside. Instead write the real issues like, never encouraged me when I did well at school, or kept getting on my case about my long hair, or kept telling my friends that I wet my bed when I was ten.
What this does is to help you identify and admit to yourself that these people owe you a debt for hurting you.
3rdly we need to count the cost of Forgiving, releasing them of this debt.
You need to realize that they can never pay back what you feel owed to you.
The king in the parable knew that the servant could never pay him back the debt owed to him. Likewise, we sinners could never pay back the debt we owe God. Could you or I ever pay back the debt that God paid for our ransom when He died on that cross so many years ago. Is there anything that you can do to pay for the nail scarred hands, the whiplashes, the thorny crown, the beard pulled out of his face.
We sing in Sunday school in the morning sometimes with the wee kids a song called "He Paid A Debt" The words go like this:
He paid a debt He did not owe
I owed a debt I could not pay
I needed someone to wash my sins away
And now I sing a brand new song
Amazing grace all day long
Christ Jesus paid a debt
That I could never pay!
He paid a debt at Calvary
He cleansed my soul & set me free
I'm so glad that all my sins are washed away!
(He Paid a Debt by G.McSpadden)
I ask you again. Can we pay the debt that we owe? How much has God forgiven you?
If you were to stop and think of what it cost God to forgive you of each and every sin, the cost of forgiving others would seem insignificant by comparison. Counting the cost also means to no longer have an emotional weapon against the person whom has hurt us. And at the same time you have to realize that you will once again become vulnerable to being hurt again, because your emotions will once again be made whole, and not seared.
Fourthly, have mercy upon them.
When you pray to God, let it be known to Him if you have felt you needed to revenge others for what they have done to you.
Unfortunately that is our natural, fleshly, sinful nature to want to make others feel the same pain and emotion that you felt when they hurt you. Determine in your heart, that if the opportunity presented itself, that you could walk up to them and show them mercy for what they have done to you.
Can you imagine what it would feel like if you looked at the person in the eye who killed you wife or kid and you could say in your heart, I forgive you?
Can you imagine the sense of relief they would have if you showed them mercy even if you had the power to do unto them what they did to you?
That's what God has done to us. He has shown us mercy by not holding us to the debt we owe Him for our sins.
Fifth. Forgive & Release those whom have hurt you.
To forgive someone is to release them from the debt they owe you.
When you forgive those that have hurt you, you set a prisoner free.
That prisoner is you.
Now, why do I say that? Resentment & bitterness hurts you, more than it hurts the other person. Job 5:2 spells it out well. It says "For wrath kills a foolish man,.." (New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.)
Too many Christians are walking about saying that they cannot forgive a person that has hurt them. The result of that is that they do not have the joy in their life that they should be enjoying
because they are holding on to a grudge, refusing to let it go and allowing God to bring a healing into their lives. Hanging onto a grudge cannot change anything. No matter how much bitterness you have, you will never change what has happened. It won't change the past, nor will it help the present or the future.
The more you hang onto a grudge the more miserable you feel. While you are spending all your energy stewing up inside, the person you are upset with is walking about likely unaware of your anger and is enjoying themselves.
Resentment never hurts the other person. It only hurts you.
Research has shown that resentment has tremendous consequences. It can cause physical, emotional & spiritual consequences. We have all heard someone say about another: "he gives me a pain in the neck." It is quite true indeed. Bitterness can make you physically ill.
Here is an illustration.
A guy walks into the doctor's office and asks for some pills for his colitis.
The doctor replies by saying," Who are you colliding with now." S.I. McMillan wrote in a book called "None of These Diseases" "It's not what you have been eating, it's what is eating you." There are physical effects to bitterness.
Likewise there is an emotional effect as well. Depression is a result of bitterness Depression is the result of a depletion of emotional energy. Nothing depletes emotional energy faster than
resentment & bitterness.
So you must decide for yourself what you want to do. Do you want to get better, or do you want to get even?
Bitterness has a spiritual consequence as well.
In Mark 11:25 Jesus tells us: And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins." (New International Version, ©2011)
& verse 26 "But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses." (King James Version)
This is important to remember. Because God the Father forgives you as much as you forgive others.
A fellow approached John Wesley one time and said: "I could never forgive that person! Never! Wesley's reply was this: "Then I hope you never sin." If you refuse to forgive, you are burning the very bridge you've got to cross in order to get to heaven.
Forgiveness you see is not optional. It is a command. To forgive is to walk the Christian life. If we are unable to forgive, we neither will able to be forgiven. Because God has forgiven us, we to must learn to forgive others.
Bitterness you see just doesn't work. It is a waste of time & energy. It does not hurt the other person, but makes you physically, emotionally & spiritually sick. So learn to release so that you can be free from the poisonous grip of bitterness.
Here are a few more key verses to help you get over bitterness in your life and to move forward and be healed.
Romans 12:19: Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. (King James Version)
Revenge belongs to God. Let Him settle the score.
Eph. 4:26 "Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath." (King James Version)
When you hang on to bitterness it eats you up and turns into hate.
If you have aught against another it is better to try to resolve it before going to bed at night where you are likely to just spend half the night stewing on it.
It is far better to go at once and make peace with your brother or sister. Eph. 4:32: "And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you." (King James Version)
How often has Christ forgiven you? Remember when He was on the cross. What did He say? He said," Father, forgive them for they know not what they do." Christ forgave them freely without waiting to be asked. He took the initiative, likewise so should you? We need to forgive others as often as need be, without waiting for them to ask for it, whether they want to or not,
whether they accept it or not.
Your job is to forgive and get over the resentment so that you can be healed and enjoy life. You'll never stop hurting until you forgive others who have hurt you. That's the key. That's what sets you free.
Let me point out what forgiveness is not. It is not pretending that nothing happened. Wishing that it didn't happen. Ignoring the hurt. Forgetting it.
That's a cop out. You say I forgive you. That releases them and it releases you. Forgiveness is not demanding that they change before you will forgive them. The Bible says you are to forgive as readily as God forgave us in Christ Jesus.
So how should we forgive? We should forgive the exact same way God forgives us. God forgives freely, instantly, completely, & continually. We are to learn to be Christ like. To be Christ like is to be forgiving.
Luke 6; 27,28 gives us this further command.
But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you." (King James Version)
There are many more verses we could look at on the need to forgive. The key again is to forgive & release those who have hurt you and rest on Jesus the great physician who will take the Holy Ghost brush, using the water & soap of His Word & blood to cleanse those hidden wounds that have become infected. Let Him wash you freely with His blood and make you whole again.
Oh yes, one more thing. Remember that invoice. Rip it up and burn it and forget it.
God has set you free.
The Importance of Forgiveness
Have you ever tried walking up to your father and say to him, "Dad I forgive you." I suspect that if you did, tears would well up in his eyes as he embraced you and say, "Son I am sorry." It might be worth a try. The least that could happen is he still rejects you. The best that could happen is that have your earthly father back in your life again.
So called friends never leave you if they are a true friends. I received a card years ago when I worked in the carnival from the FAT LADY. Do you know why she gave me the card? Because I was a true friend to her, when most others steered away from her because of her size. Do you know what the card said? A Fiend is a friend to a friend indeed, when a friend is a friend to a friend in need. That is the true description of what a friend is. I would wager to say, and I think statistics also claim the same, that most people though they may have a crowd of people they may chum with, but when it comes down to the crunch, most people may have only one, maybe two real true friends. So do not worry that you may not have any true friends. You do have One Really True Friend that you can always count on no matter what. No matter your failures no matter anything you may do, say or not say. That friend is Jesus. He is but a breath away at any time day or night.
You can forgive those whom have hurt you in prayer. You do not necessarily to to tell them to their face, though that would be good. But God knows in your heart if you are sincere when you do. And He is the only one that really matters.
That is a hard task to forgive God for what you think He may have done to you. God thankfully is a God of compassion and love. No matter what we may think or say to him, He will never reject us. He accepts us as we are. It is because He loves us so much, that Jesus died on the cross for us and rose again. We do not deserve His forgiveness. We do not deserve the wonderful gift of eternal life He offers us. But He does, because His love for us is far beyond what we can imagine. His love for us is as huge as His forgiveness of our sins. It says in scripture that when He forgives us our sins, He also forgets them. He separates us from our sins as far as the east is from the west.That is an infinite line going in either direction which can never meet. That is how much He loves us. That is how much His forgiveness of our sins is. God would certainly never tell one to abandon you if He put one in front of you.
Now again as I said before, take that scrap of paper you wrote or imagined in your mind of those whom have hurt you. And like God has done, take it, burn it up, forget about it forever. It is finished. God has forgiven you, you too now must forgive others.
Don't Give up the Fight!
However, all these quotations are seeds of lies planted in our minds by the evil one who hates us and wants our destruction. He jumps for joy when a child of God gives up the fight and plays the woe is me game. God says no way. He will not forsake you. The solution is firstly to turn to Him in prayer believing that He can and will change you from the inside out.