The sixth item on the Freedom Guide is to forgive quickly any new offenses and to continue to forgive those things that try to come back up. Unforgiveness is a serious issue, and one that will hold you in serious bondage. Peter asked Jesus how often he should forgive his brother. Jesus tells this parable to answer the question:
Then Peter came and said to Him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven. “For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. “When he had begun to settle them, one who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him. “But since he did not have the means to repay, his lord commanded him to be sold, along with his wife and children and all that he had, and repayment to be made. “So the slave fell to the ground and prostrated himself before him, saying, ‘Have patience with me and I will repay you everything.’ “And the lord of that slave felt compassion and released him and forgave him the debt. “But that slave went out and found one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred denarii; and he seized him and began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay back what you owe.’ “So his fellow slave fell to the ground and began to plead with him, saying, ‘Have patience with me and I will repay you.’ “But he was unwilling and went and threw him in prison until he should pay back what was owed. “So when his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were deeply grieved and came and reported to their lord all that had happened. “Then summoning him, his lord said to him, ‘You wicked slave, I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. ‘Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow slave, in the same way that I had mercy on you?’ “And his lord, moved with anger, handed him over to the torturers until he should repay all that was owed him. “My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart.” Matthew 18:21-35, NASB
Note, that the slave who refused to forgive was handed over to the torturers… That bondage is the natural consequence of not forgiving. Even the medical communities are discovering what Jesus alluded to 2000 years ago. Unforgiveness puts your body in a state of stress and pressure which then can result in diseases of all kinds. Not good!
I grew up with the idea that forgiveness was all or nothing, you either forgave, or you didn’t. However, I’ve now learned that forgiveness is a process more than a one time event, especially for very hurtful things. When ever those memories and feelings resurface, I must choose to forgive again. It may be that I am reminding myself of my choice to forgive, but either way, I find I need to do this more than just once.
As you declare forgiveness, ask God to heal the hurt of those events. This is a piece that I missed for quite a while. It’s the same premise that the spiritual world, as well as the natural, abhors a vacuum. It’s not enough to just clean out the bad, I want to fill up those areas with the good to be well and truly healed.
This is primarily a transaction between you and God, not you and the person. It may be good to go to the person and express your forgiveness, but not always is that wise or safe. Forgiveness doesn’t mean a regain of trust and relationship, either, necessarily. If a person has shown themselves to be untrustworthy, you can forgive them and yet still maintain healthy boundaries. Forgiveness doesn’t mean that everything is okay, it means that you are set free from the torment of unforgiveness!
Who do you need to forgive? Take a moment and ask God to show you. Forgiveness is your get out of jail free card!
If you would like more information on this and the rest of the items on the Freedom Guide, I expanded this content into a book and workbook that you can purchase from me in the office, at my online shop or other retailers here.