Matthew 18:23-35

23 “Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24 As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold was brought to him. 25 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. 26 “At this the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ 27 The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go. 28 “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. 29 “His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’ 30 “But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. 31 When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened. 32 “Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. 33 Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ 34 In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed. 35 “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”

This passage always seemed important to me in my ministry as I saw everyone else that was in need of following its council. Last week though as God impressed me to share it during a week of prayer for a group of refugee children on the border of Myanmar, God showed me my need of its instruction.

In my past I was a very bad person. I did many things that brought harm to so many. Yet when I came to Christ, all those things were forgiven and my slate was wiped clean. That is a huge deal because the ‘reward’ for my old life should be death according to the Scriptures. But God, in His love, gave up everything so that I might find forgiveness and freedom in Him. Just like the servant who sought desperately for mercy that He may get things in order in his life and He was not only granted mercy, but full freedom. No longer was he a slave; at least not to that king. But we can see he was not completely free. The text says he found a man who owed him a fraction of what he had just been forgiven but he showed no mercy or compassion. The result; he was locked away in prison. I saw an interesting connection in the punishment given to him and the result of carrying around unforgiveness. The unforgiveness we carry around becomes a prison cell for us. We are enslaved to negative thoughts and feelings. And though we may gain forgiveness from the Lord, we are still in bondage until we can let go of past hurts and allow God to give us the power to forgive.

God revealed to me that even though I had claimed to forgive, I was still holding bitterness and resentment toward my biological mother. That unforgiveness was causing me to be a slave to negative thoughts and allowing the enemy a foothold into my life. Realizing it and seeing that I had a choice to forgive or be locked in ‘prison’, I was able to be freed from those feelings.

When we consider all that the Lord has given for us; the great sacrifice He has made and continues to make on our behalf, how can we be anything but forgiving to others. We have done far worse to God than any person has done to us. The biggest thing is truly understanding and accepting that God HAS forgiven us and we are free from all the power of the evil one. May you find freedom and peace through the forgiveness of Christ and forgiving through Him as well

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