Wednesday, July 14, 2010

WEDNESDAY WEEKLY WORD...who holds the key?

Unforgiveness ... such an ugly word. It can also be a very ugly prison that often times we place ourselves in.

Imagine yourself in a prison-like setting. As you look around, you see a number of cells visible from where you stand. In these cells, you see people from your past who are incarcerated there. In one cell, there is someone who wounded you as a child. In another cell, you see so-called friends who wronged you. In yet another cell, sitting in a corner is a loved one; a mother or a father or a sibling that turned their back on you. In the corner is a rather large cell and this is where your spouse sits, trapped just like all of the others in this self-made jail that you have created.

The picture of this prison is not an actual prison, but simply a room in our hearts. Hearts that have become bitter and full of unforgiveness can be a very dark and lonely place that exists inside of us every day. Just like a judge who awaits on the other side of a prison chamber with the key, outside the door of our prison chamber, Jesus stands. He is extending the key to us so we may release each inmate that we have imprisoned with our own unforgiveness.

The problem with this scenario is that we like to hold onto the key, so we can decide, if and when those imprisoned can be let go and forgiven.

In last week's YOUR OPINION MATTERS POLL, I polled the readers the following question: "Who is the hardest person for you to forgive?" The top 3 answers were...

1. 35% of those voting said that forgiving their spouse is hard.
2. 21% voted and said that forgiving their parents is hard.
3. 14% responded and said the hardest person to forgive is their friends.

Forgiving others is not easy. Forgiving those who have hurt us does not clear any wrong doing, in fact God is keeping record. The only thing cleared is that we don't have to worry about how to punish those who have harmed us. Forgiving others is not releasing them from wrong doing - it is releasing them to God.

In Matthew, Jesus tells a parable of the ungrateful servant. A man owed a sizable amount of money and he was surprised to hear his Master grant mercy on him and  forgive him of his debt. When released from jail, the servant did a most unexpected thing - he went to another man who owed him a much smaller amount and demanded immediate payment! When the Master heard of this, he became angry:

"His Lord, moved with anger, handed him over to the torturers until he should repay all that was owed him." (Matthew 18:34)

Torture. Prison. This is what comes to mind when I think about unforgiveness. The problem with my prison scenario is that often times we refuse to allow God to free those whom we have imprisoned with our anger, bitterness and unforgiveness. When we hold onto the key and keep those who have hurt us captive, we ourselves take residence up in one of the empty cells in our prison.

It is then that we become like the servant in Jesus' story - we choose to not extend forgiveness and we are handed over to the jailers and torturers. Our freedom now depends on us forgiving others.

Do you have someone in your life that you need to forgive? Free them from your imprisonment - hand over the key to Jesus!