Sunday, July 2, 2017

How to Forgive Your Enemy

Jesus told a parable about a king that forgave a slave who owed him $50 million in today's dollars. It would take him 4,500 lifetimes to pay it off, yet the merciful king dismissed him from the entire debt! You’d think the slave would be so grateful for being forgiven that he would forgive everyone who owed him as well. Not so with this guy. When he found a fellow-slave who owed him $15, he started choking him, saying, “Pay back what you owe me!” (Matt. 18:28).

Are you choking someone who has hurt you? You aren't physically strangling your enemy, but what about in your mind? The $50 million debt represents the debt we owe to God. When we ask God's forgiveness, the merciful King dismisses the debt. Since we’ve now received His mercy, He wants us to extend mercy to our enemies and dismiss their debt as well.

How can you forgive those who have hurt you?
1. Focus on what God did FOR you, not what that person did TO you.
I can’t give away something that I haven't first received. I can't give you $15 if I haven't first received $15. And I can't give forgiveness to others until I’ve first received it from God. But since the Lord has forgiven my $50 million debt, it’s no problem for me to forgive $15.

2. Change the way you view the person who hurt you. You won’t forgive as long as you’re angry at your enemy, so you’ll need to change how you view him. The king was angry at first but then "felt compassion" for the slave, which moved him to forgive him (Matt. 18:27). When his emotions changed from anger to pity, forgiveness followed. Find a way to feel pity and compassion for your enemy. Perhaps the person is lost, is mentally ill, or was abused as a child—see them in that way. (I’ve shared real examples of this in my book Slaying Your Giants pp.59-70.)

3. Let go by taking your hands off your enemy’s neck. People owe different kinds of debts. Some people owe money. Others might owe you an apology. Perhaps you’re upset because someone hasn’t thanked you. Keep in mind that hateful people never apologize, and ungrateful people don’t say thank you. Quit expecting your enemy to make things right with you. Instead of choking him (or her), trying to force him to repay, take your hands off his neck. Take the loss and let it go, just as the king let go of the $50 million debt that was owed to him.

Prayer: “Lord, thank you for forgiving my $50 million debt. I choose to forgive (name the person) for (describe the offense). I’m letting go of (person) and I’ve changed the way I view him/her.”
When you forgive your enemy you’ll stop being tormented inside. And that's worth a whole lot more than the $15 debt you forgave.
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Making Life Count Ministries
P.O. Box 680174
Prattville, Alabama 36068-0174  Twitter: @KentCrockett