Set Free Through Forgiveness (Part 1)
Last month I made the last payment on my 2006 Toyota Corolla. It feels so good to know that
not only do I have an extra $300 a month in my budget but I also don’t have to worry about missing
a payment or incurring a penalty. I am free from this debt. It wasn’t that this debt completely
controlled my spending or that it was the primary thing on my mind. It was … a debt…. something
that I had picked up in my past, still carried with me and, to some extent, affected my experience of
Paying off a debt is a lot like forgiveness. When someone hurts us, abuses us, abandons us, rejects
us, humiliates us or betrays us we have an emotional “angst” that we hold against them. They “owe”
us something. This angst may not control every relationship we have or be the primary thing on our
mind but it is… a debt… something we picked up in our past, still carry with us and, to some extent,
affects our experience of life. Carrying this debt will affect the way we relate to others, the amount we trust others and the extent to which we experience intimacy in relationships.
Imagine you were at the bank filling out an application for a new loan. Part of this process is making a list of your current debts. Your ability to take on a new financial obligation will be affected by the current obligations you carry. Now imagine you are moving into a new relationship, joined a new small group, met a new friend or started dating. Your ability to take on a new relational challenge will be affected by the current “obligations” you carry.
Before you move forward into this new relationship, make a list of your current relational debts. In other words, make a list of the people who “owe” you and a list of the people you “owe”. The weight of these debts will hinder the success of this new relationship. That is where forgiveness comes in.
Forgiveness is like paying the debt. When my car loan was paid in full, not only did I not have to make further payments, I was completely released from the weight of that relationship, it had no affect on my everyday life anymore. So, relationally, who will pay for all of these old debts that continue to affect my current relationship?
This is where Jesus comes in. The ultimate payment for all sin is death (“For the wages of sin is death….” Romans 6:23). Christ made that payment in full and now “proclaims the forgiveness of sins” (Acts 13:38). He urges us to forgive (release the debt that others owe us) in the same way that God forgave (released the debt we owed him). Just as you could never fully pay for all of the wrongs you have done, the people who hurt you could never fully pay for the ways they have wounded you. When we apply the payment that Christ made to our own sin debt and to the sin debt of others, we realize that they are all paid in full and we are FREE.
I am enjoying the freedom of not making a car payment every month, it has affected the way I handle my money. I am also enjoying the freedom of not holding past sins against myself or against others, it is affecting the way I freely relate to others.