Forgiveness can be a hard thing for sinful humans to understand, embrace and practice. When we get to heaven, although our sins are forgiven, we may suffer loss of rewards for clinging to unforgiveness, and it will certainly affect our lives while we are still here on earth. So here is some food for thought:
First of all, there is a difference between being hurt, and being harmed. Most of us Christians are pretty quick to forgive when hurt, but often find it much harder when they have been harmed. Allow me to explain. If your husband forgets your birthday, it is understandable that your feelings would be hurt, but there is no real harm done by the momentary memory lapse (unless of course you choose to hold it against him).
Now if your husband “forgets” the vow he made on your wedding day, and is unfaithful, then very real harm has been done. See the difference? One offense is much weightier than the other.
When King David lusted after Bathsheba, acted upon that lust, then compounded the sin further by having Uriah killed, whom did he sin against (2 Samuel 11)?
If Jesus died to balance the books on the sin of the whole world (Isaiah 53:6), then who am I to hold the sin of another against them, even if it was directed at me? Regardless of whether that person has been washed in the blood, we who have nothing to recommend us to God other than the blood of Jesus that covers us, are in no position to exact payment from anyone who has done us wrong.
And how much more egregious is it to hold a debt against a fellow blood-bought believer? Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us, says the prayer.
Matthew 18:23-35 says the Kingdom of heaven is likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants. And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents, but when that servant could not pay, rather than sell the servant and his family and possessions in order to recoup the debt, the master had mercy and forgave him his debt.
Yet the servant then went right out to collect a debt from someone who owed a much lesser amount of money to him. Notice the passage does not say he was trying to collect this debt in order to pay back the master. No, it was just a shakedown! This guy wanted his money, but when his debtor could not pay, he had him thrown into prison until he should repay it all. When the master learned that his servant had no compassion over a small debt even after he himself had been forgiven such great debt, the master was “wroth and delivered him to the tormenters until he should pay all that was due unto him” (v. 34).
Since we know that salvation is eternal, does this mean if we don’t forgive others, God won’t forgive us? Or does it simply mean what it says: we will be delivered unto the tormenters?
If we find ourselves wondering why the devil seems to have been given permission to personally torment us, why we are miserable under circumstances that seem unrelenting, perhaps it is time to go before the Lord and ask Him to reveal to us the unforgiveness in our own hearts
It is a sin, to hold someone else’s sin against them. But just as was the case with King David; against God, and God only, has my enemy sinned (Psalm 51:4). That person may have harmed me, but they did not sin against me, they sinned against God, and I have too.
We are each like the two thieves who hung on either side of Jesus when He died. Both guilty. Which one went to paradise? The one who understood Jesus was hanging there because of that thief’s own personal sins. The other guy was still casting stones and adding crimes to his own rap sheet right up until his last breath.
Which thief are you?