Dear Members and Friends of IBCZ,
This past Sunday we considered the second half of the phrase from the Lord’s Prayer, “Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” We saw that the word “forgive” literally means “to release.” When we forgive someone who has hurt us or wronged us, we release them from the guilt of their act, and we release them from any form of retaliation on our part to get back at them.
In addition, as we forgive, we release ourselves from the prison of an unforgiving heart and its consequences. In the sermon, I quoted one of my seminary professors, Dr. Lewis Smedes. I find his words both insightful and powerful, so I want to include them here so you can reflect further on them:
If you cannot free people from their wrongs and see them as the needy people they are, you enslave yourself to your own painful past, and by fastening yourself to the past, you let your hate become your future. You can reverse your future only by releasing other people from their pasts.
What a wonderful gift God has given us with forgiveness. Of course, of supreme importance is God’s forgiveness of our sins through the death of Christ. But it is also such an incredible gift in our personal relationships. When we forgive another person, we set them free from the guilt of their action, and our relationship is restored. Second, we set ourselves free from the hurt, hate, bitterness, anger, and resentment that fester in our soul when we hold onto the wrongs done to us.
I know it often is not easy to forgive, especially if someone has hurt us in a very deep way. But as Smedes states, it is only be releasing others from their past sins against us that our future can be freed from the poisons of unforgiveness, and instead we can experience peace and well-being in our soul.
With God’s help, may we all grow in the grace of forgiving others!
Grace and peace,