I haven’t been able to get the subject of forgiveness out of my mind.
Perhaps the reason is that there is so much unforgiveness in our world.
Violence headlines our news with the same revengeful message: “You
hurt me, so I will hurt you.”
Tragic, isn’t it? The cure to conflict is so obtainable. Yet people
would rather hold a grudge than reconcile, “get even” than
It’s a problem that permeates every culture. One experience comes to
mind. I was traveling in another country, riding in a car driven by a man
from that country whom I’d known for years. As we rode along, I heard
him mumble a prejudicial slur at an individual from a hated ethnic group.
Taken aback, I asked frankly, “What is it going to take for you to
forgive these people?”
He looked at me with an angry frown and said, “We don’t even
have a word in our vocabulary for forgiveness.”
What place does forgiveness have in your world? What about unforgiveness?
Is there someone you need to forgive . . . or ask forgiveness from? Whether
you’re the offended or the offender, the cure is the
Jesus prescribed forgiveness as a prerequisite for worship. Remember when
He instructed the people to leave their sacrifices and go and be reconciled
to anyone who had something against them (Matthew 5:23–24)? Jesus saw
the need to be forgiven as a problem big enough to interrupt one’s
Jesus also taught the other side of the coin. He warned of the consequences
of unforgiveness through a story about a king who forgave his servant who
owed him “millions of dollars”. . . but then, incredibly, the
forgiven man refused to forgive another’s debt of less than twenty
dollars (Matthew 18:24).
Jesus’ story contrasts God’s forgiveness of us versus our
forgiveness of others. His point? It’s hypocritical to draw from the
riches of God’s vast account of grace while pinching pennies toward
others. Don’t do it!
The consequence of such duplicity? The one who refuses to forgive will be
handed “over to the torturers” (Matthew 18:34, NASB). Think
about that. You will be turned over to torturous thoughts and the misery of
If a grudge has a hold on you, you know what I’m talking
about—that constant, churning feeling. Even when you’re on
vacation, the image of your offender haunts you. You can hardly hear the
crashing of the waves on the shore because you can’t silence the
sound of that person’s voice in your head.
It’s time to stop dragging this anchor. Release the past! Forgiving
will free you from the torturers . . . and set your heart to singing!
Really, it will. Scripture proves it!
We hear voices throughout the Bible singing the freedom song. Remember
Joseph? His brothers sold him into slavery, where he was falsely accused
and left, forgotten in prison. If anybody ever had a reason to keep a
record of wrongs, Joseph did! But God helped him erase those offenses.
Joseph commemorated that freedom with his first child.
Joseph named his older son Manasseh [which means forget], for he
said, “God has made me forget all my troubles.” (Genesis
Joseph must have smiled every time he called Manasseh’s name.
Isaiah’s hopeful prediction is another voice of freedom:
You will no longer remember the shame of your youth
and the sorrows of widowhood.
For your Creator will be your husband. (Isaiah 54:4–5)
Do you want to mentally erase your shame and sorrow? Bring your pain to the foot of the cross and be healed at the deepest
level. Nowhere else is this kind of healing available. At the cross, Jesus
joins us in our suffering. His tears mingle with ours. We feel His
mistreatment, betrayal, rejection, and beatings . . . and He feels ours.
Out of this healing connection with Jesus, forgiveness is born. He forgives
us and sets us free to forgive others. Forgiven and free, our souls sing!
Is there an offense you can’t forget? Write down that hurt, bring
that paper to the cross, and etch FORGIVEN across it. Ask your Lord to fill
the holes in your heart and help you “press on” (Philippians
Do you need to be reconciled with someone? Log your offenses. Bring the
paper with you to the person, confess, and humbly ask for forgiveness.
It sounds too simple to be true, but forgiveness is that powerful.
It’s not easy, but it is wonderfully true.
Forgive . . . and sing the song of the soul set free!