Imprisoned By Unforgiveness

In recent discussions with some of the guys in my group, we had a great discussion about unforgiveness as we work our way through the Gospel of Matthew. As we discussed Matthew 18:21-35 and the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant it brought to light the importance of making sure that we are not harboring unforgiveness in our heart for multiple reasons. Let’s look at an example from the Bible on this topic.

Matthew 18:21-35 is The Parable of The Unforgiving Servant. This is a great example of what will happen if our hearts are not right before God and we hold unforgiveness against others. Please click the link and read through the parable. To paraphrase the story, it goes something like this..

A king is seeking to settle all the debts in his kingdom. He comes upon this servant who owes him 10,000 talents. To put some perspective to that number in dollars, it is said that these 10,000 talents would be equivalent to 20 years wages for a laborer. So let’s average the current day laboror’s salary around 30,000 annually. This would mean that this servant owed the king around 600,000.00. Whether there is hyperbole there or not, the reality is that the servant will probably never be able to pay the king back this debt. So the servant begs for mercy, swearing to pay the king back. The king finally cancels the entire debt out of pity and forgives it all. Lets keep in mind that there is no way for us to repay the debt that we owed, but God paid that debt with the life of his son Jesus.

Now this same servant came to one of his fellow servants that owed him a much lower debt, 100 denarii which would be about 100 days wages. He grabbed him and began choking him while demanding what was owed to him. His fellow servant fell to the ground and began to plead for mercy but was thrown in jail until he paid the debt.

The King found out about the servant’s behavior after being forgiven of a debt greater than he could pay and summoned him. After an angry rebuke, the king threw his servant in jail until he could pay the debt.

Where the rubber hits the road for us is in verse 35 where Jesus states that “So also my Heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.” This is a stern warning about harboring unforgiveness in our hearts. I am sure we all have that one person, maybe two that we do not want to forgive because their actions were so grievous. Well, we see here that if we continue to refuse to forgive all we are doing is hurting ourselves and stopping God from forgiving us. Do we really want that? Do we really want a future of being imprisoned by unforgiveness? Jesus said in Matthew 6:15 after telling us how to pray, “But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”

I can tell you that when I go to God and ask forgiveness I would want to be forgiven. If we want forgiveness, we have to walk in forgiveness. Nobody said that it would be easy to forgive all trespasses, but it is necessary if you want to be forgiven of yours. Remember that forgiveness is a choice not a feeling. You make the choice to forgive that person that has sinned against you and let it go. As we see in verse 22 that Jesus says to forgive 7 x 70 times.

Unforgiveness does not hurt the person you are refusing to forgive. It really only hurts you. It will hurt you spiritually as well as naturally. There are plenty of studies on what anger, hurt and stress will do to the body and unforgiveness can create all of the above. So I encourage you to take a moment to pray and ask God to search your hear for any unforgiveness, and then forgive them! You will feel better and God will be able to forgive your sins as well.

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