Off the hook!

If you forgive anyone, I also forgive him. And what I have forgiven – if there was anything to forgive – I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake, in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes (2 Corinthians 2:10-11)
 
Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold was brought to him. Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt. At this the servant fell on his knees before him. “Be patient with me,” he begged, “and I will pay back everything.” The servant’s master took pity on him, cancelled the debt and let him go. But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins. He grabbed him and began to choke him. “Pay back what you owe me!” he demanded. His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, “Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.” But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened. Then the master called the servant in. “You wicked servant,” he said, “I cancelled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?” In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed. This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart. (Matthew 18:23-35)
This parable in Matthew 18 is one of the most shocking stories that Jesus ever told. It ends with the unforgiving servant being tortured in prison and Jesus drives the point home by saying, “This is how my heavenly Father will treat you if you don’t forgive others from your heart.”
 
We may feel that by refusing to forgive someone we are keeping a hold over them; we can’t imagine letting them off the hook. The Bible teaches us that through unforgiveness we are in fact keeping ourselves hooked to the past! We are the ones experiencing spiritual torment and falling for Satan’s number one scheme for outwitting Christians.
 
The pure air of God’s kingdom is forgiveness – we breathe it in as we receive God’s forgiveness of us, and we breathe it out as we extend that forgiveness to others.  If we stop doing either, we will suffocate and miss out on Jesus’ promise of life in all its fullness (John 10:10). As someone once said, “Choosing to forgive is to set a captive free and then to realise that the captive was you!”
  1. Read the pattern of prayer that Jesus taught in Matthew 6:9-15, focusing especially on verses 11-12. Just as bread is a daily need, so too is forgiveness. Take a moment to ask God if there is anything between you and him right now. If he brings anything to mind, confess it as sin and ask for his forgiveness, thanking him afterwards that it no longer stands between you (1 John 1:8-2:2).
  2. Now ask God if there is anything between you and another person.  If he brings anything to mind, tell him that you are choosing to forgive them.  Afterwards thank him for providing this way of freeing you from the pain of the past.
  3. If you find that you just can’t forgive yet, don’t despair, keep pressing on through this week’s devotions. True forgiveness is often a process, so keep on travelling down the road with us.
Thank you, Lord Jesus, that when I confess my sin to you, you promise to forgive me and purify me. Thank you for teaching me to forgive others who have sinned against me.  Please help me to keep growing in this gift so that I can experience freedom from the past and fullness of life in the present. I ask this in your precious name. Amen
Today’s Everyday Devotions were written by David Featherstone.
If you have time, consider carrying on your conversation with God using one of our helpful Prayer Pathways.
Today’s Everyday Devotions have also inspired a devotional video that you can watch on our YouTube channel.
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