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  • Pastor Matthew Chester

Relationships 101 - Forgiveness Pt 1

“Relationships 101” Forgiveness Part 1 -Matthew 18:21-35

Forgiveness in its most basic sense is letting go of the desire, the need, and the “right” to require punishment or restitution for the perceived offense. In forgiving, we renounce the right to hold resentment; we stop fanning the flame of anger and instead seek to restore that which has been lost.

The alternative to forgiveness is to allow little seeds of anger to be planted, watching them take root in the form of resentment which eventually leads to distance and walls developing in your relationship.

You may have a situation currently that has taken root in your relationship in the form of resentment, anger, or perceived inequality. As you experience the implications of this circumstance, consider some of these aspects of forgiveness:

Forgiveness is about you – your choice to let go of the experience of hurt and pain.

Forgiveness is not about another person’s perception of your situation or relationship.

Forgiveness offers grace – unmerited favor, undeserved, and free of expectations.

When we don’t forgive we are cast into a chamber of a prison cell from which we cannot get free. Then we introduce into our spirit, harmful attitudes, and actions that leave us judgmental, unteachable and bitter.

Someone said that "Unforgiveness is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.” I have never been in a jail cell; I have never stood behind bars and served time in a physical prison.

But many times I have been trapped in the prison of unforgiveness.

In fact, many people on a church pew every Sunday come and want to get free, but in fact, they are stuck in the prison of unforgiveness. But what is so ironic about the prison of unforgiveness is that you have the keys in your hand. Understand this: unforgiveness is a self-inflicted prison. It is self-induced torture.

It is a ball-and-chain of your own making. No matter what anybody did to you first, forgiveness or unforgiveness is your own choice.

God tells us to forgive for our own good, more than anyone else’s. Forgiveness brings freedom and finishes the debt. We can have the opportunity to close the door on past hurts, even if the memory still exists.

Are you in prison? Are you keeping someone else prisoner? In Matthew 18:21-35, Jesus answers one of his disciple's questions on how many times he should forgive his brothers who has done something wrong to him. Jesus responds with the challenge to continue to extend forgiveness.

He illustrates his point with a story about a man who had a huge debt to pay his employer. There was no way possible in his lifetime for the man to repay his boss and he faced a long prison sentence. The man pleaded for mercy.

Moved with compassion the boss decided to cancel the debt of the man. There was great rejoicing and those who witnessed this display of grace were captivated by the employer's generosity.

When the man left “debt-free” he found one of his fellow workers who owed him a small amount of money and had him thrown into jail until he could repay his debt.

1. Unforgiveness keeps the relationship in a prison- (34, 35) Jesus Christ tells us a story in Matthew 18 about three men. A Ruler, a debtor, and a fellow servant, & Christ share with us what will happen if we harbor unforgiveness in our hearts.

What happened to the debtor was tragic because this man owed an amount of money that only a millionaire could pay. In fact, the bible tells us that the debtor owed 10,000 talents. Now a talent was a weight a measurement = one talent weighed 75 pounds.

So to owe 10,000 talents meant he owed 750,000 pounds of silver. Today with silver being around $17 an oz, that means he owed well over 12 million dollars. However, he had a fellow servant who owed the debtor some money = 100 pence to be exact. That would be about $1.60 today. The debtor fell into the prison of unforgiveness.

Often, we get bitter and upset about the smallest of things. The wife forgot to close the garage door, the husband forgets to get the dry cleaning. The list could go on and on. However, most often we are upset over something that costs $1.60. We hold the relationship hostage over something that is so small and minuscule. Don't let the valuable relationship be ruined by $1.60. FORGIVE!

2. Unforgiveness keeps you trapped - You know what I learn from this story, that unforgiveness will keep you trapped. Unforgiveness if you allow, will begin to dictate what you do and where you go, and who you see.

Because if you stay trapped over unforgiveness, you are serving time for someone else's crime. You choose to be upset over something that someone else did, and you stay trapped by unforgiveness.

After we were trapped by sin and we owed a debt we could not pay - we owed God 12 million-plus dollars for our sin. And time after time we failed God, walked out on God, betrayed His trust, what does he do to us? He forgives us. But often, some of us choose to hold the $1.60 over people's heads.

Unforgiveness keeps you bound to a ‘victim’ mentality and keeps you from being an overcomer. Unforgiveness traps you in Depression, Frustration, Selfishness Insensitivity, Hatred, Negativism, Addictions, Self-hatred, Paranoia & bitterness!

Pro 17:9 He that covereth a transgression seeketh love; But he that harps on a matter separateth chief friends.

Mat 6:14 For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:

3. Unforgiveness breeds bitterness - When we leave unforgiveness in our hearts it begins to breed bitterness. When you don't forgive and you have let bitterness take hold in your life you become a person the is full of poison.

Unforgiveness grows into bitterness and resentment. Poisonous emotions that torture you. These emotions cause stress and pressure and can lead to unhealthy physical and emotional ailments. Unforgiveness does not torture the person that wronged you it only tortures you. It creates suffering.

Unforgiveness and resentment are the ties that bind you to the past, to the wrong that was brought upon you. It is impossible to leave the past behind and get on with your life while you are living in unforgiveness. It causes bitterness and resentment, which overflows into your present day.

Bitterness is a very slow form of destroying one’s peace of mind. It prolongs the hurt and makes you miserable. The Christian who falls victim to bitterness dies is a very slow death.

Unless it is resolved. You better believe the enemy wants to trip you up with bitterness.

Heb 12:15 See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up and causes you trouble, or many of you will become defiled.

Ephesians 4:31 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:

4. Unforgiveness hurts your relationship with God - If unforgiveness breeds bitterness and hatred and anxiety, then we must know the unforgiveness is not of God, but in fact, it's just the opposite it is from the enemy.

That's why unforgiveness hurts your relationship with Him. It puts poison in your prayer life and a knife in your love for others because you are holding the $1.60 over their heads.

Even after God has forgiven us, how much more are we to forgive others? If we are holding on to our hurts and holding on to our past mistreatment, then we are not relying on God to take care of it.

When we come to Christ, we put away those past hurts, we put away those mistreatments, we put away all malice. Because we have been forgiven by the highest God.

When we hold on to unforgiveness it leads to or contributes to:

1. Judgmental spirit

2. Defensiveness,

3. Unforgiving spirit

4. Separation from God

5. Self-righteousness

6. Rejection

7. Criticism

8. Gossip

9. Pride

10. Unable to be forgiven by God

11. Controlling Spirit

12. Bitterroot and judgementalism Can you see that by holding to bitterness, judgment and unforgiveness essentially keeps you trapped? You have received both the offender and his/her offense into your heart and are holding onto it tightly!

This binds you like glue to your offender. In doing so, the enemy has you just where he wants you. If you choose to do the unexpected – forgive your offender.

You are free of him and what he has done to you. You can be free of the past and its pain. Then you will be in a position to receive the full benefits of God’s blessings into your life.

Rom 12:19 Dear friends, don't try to get even. Let God take revenge. In the Scriptures, the Lord says, "I am the one to take revenge and pay them back.".

When we hold on to bitterness & unforgiveness we are holding our feelings above the law of God. The Word tells us in Romans do not worry about getting back and even, I will take care of it.

God has a funny way of getting our attention. God is a big God. But when you hold on to your hurts and bitterness breeds anger, trust God!.

James 3:14 But if your heart is full of bitter jealousy and selfishness, don't brag or lie to cover up the truth.

1 John 2:9 He that said he is in the light and hates his brother, is in darkness even until now.

Mat 6:14 For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: 15 But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

Forgiveness provides a unique way to deepen your relationship and strengthen what you have together that is not possible any other way. When we are hurt, our natural response is to protect ourselves to ensure further harm does not occur.

This happens through the release of adrenalin putting us into the “fight or flight” response. This could take the form of a spouse withdrawing emotionally, withholding who they are, their expressions of love, in an attempt to reduce vulnerability for a future wounding, an attempt to “flee” from potential hurt.

An individual may protect themselves by becoming “armed”, by having an arsenal of criticism ready should they need to “fight” when anticipated pain is triggered in the future.

The alternative to holding on to the hurt and protecting oneself from future pain is choosing to offer the gift of forgiveness and letting go of resentment No one wins when pain is left unresolved.

Pain is a signal that something is wrong and within a relationship when pain comes through insensitivity, lack of support, misunderstandings, or unmet expectations, forgiveness offers a remedy.

Forgiveness allows us to move beyond our pain, to heal, and to grow. Forgiveness also provides grace to your partner for a wrong that has been experienced. Forgiveness does not look to equalize a situation, does not look for whether a situation is fair, rather, looks at not allowing pain to take root. Forgiveness is about allowing yourself to stay vulnerable with hope for growth in your relationship.

It requires a willing heart to look beyond the injury and see the person whom you love, whose dreams you hold as your own, and to see their own pain that has now become your own.

Forgiveness is one of the greatest, unearned, unmerited gifts we can offer to our partners. We let go of our right to bring a sense of equality to the situation and instead, disarm the pain and hurt, by looking beyond and ahead.

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