by Tad Lindley
On those nights when you have trouble sleeping, do you get plagued by reliving your past? Do you think about situations where people took advantage of you or hurt you? Do you relive conversations over and over in your head? Do you think about how you wish you could go back and hurt them? Maybe it is every night and the only way to make it stop is to smoke some bowls or drink enough alcoholic beverages to block it out. Are you tired of being tormented by these thoughts? Unforgiveness is your problem, forgiveness is the answer.
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Here is a story about how lack of forgiveness results in torture. Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?”
Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.Therefore the kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. And when he had begun to settle accounts, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. But as he was not able to pay, his master commanded that he be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and that payment be made. The servant therefore fell down before him, saying, ‘Master, have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt.
“But that servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and he laid hands on him and took him by the throat, saying, ‘Pay me what you owe!’ So his fellow servant fell down at his feet and begged him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ And he would not, but went and threw him into prison till he should pay the debt. So when his fellow servants saw what had been done, they were very grieved, and came and told their master all that had been done.Then his master, after he had called him, said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?’ And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him.
“So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.” (Matthew 18:21-35 NKJV)
Could you get out of my way please Jesus?
When someone has harmed us the Bible is quite clear whose job it is to get revenge – the Lord. That is why it says, Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. (Romans 12:19) When we start plotting revenge, we are literally saying to Jesus, “Look Bro, step aside, I’m afraid you’re going to mess this up. Let me take over.” Really we are afraid that Jesus will take too long to get revenge, or that he won’t make them hurt bad enough.
Jesus: Actually, Bigshot, I need you to do this…
The Lord does not need our suggestions about how to get revenge. He does have a job for us though. When someone hurts us, his job is to take care of the revenge, here is our job: Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you. (Matthew 5:48) When we do exactly what Jesus asks us to do, then we will eventually have a deep and genuine forgiveness in our hearts. If we will not obey him, we will be turned over to the torturers.
Turned over to the torturers
In the parable that you read above, the man who was forgiven lots would not forgive a little, and so the King turned him over to the torturers. We often think that this is referring to hell, but the torturers may already be in our house. Unforgiveness is torture for us, not for the people we resent. In the quiet moments of the day and night, our torturers come, and we replay all of those old tapes in our head. We think how if we could do it all over again we would really make them pay. Instead of healing, we are victimizing ourselves over and over again.
Deliverance from the torturers
The only way to find victory is through forgiveness. Unfortunately you may have developed a destructive lifestyle of self-medication and addiction to try to block out the tormenting thoughts and the pain of the past. Or perhaps you have come to a bitter misery that rules your every waking moment. If this is the case, I am going to tell you straightforwardly that there is hope for you in Jesus. Through repentance, baptism in the name of Jesus, and the gift of the Holy Ghost (Acts 2:38) you can rise up to walk in newness of life! If your tired of the torturers, forgive!
Tad Lindley is a minister at the United Pentecostal Church in Bethel, Alaska.