The grace of Jesus Christ forgave me. Unforgiveness is a disease that eats at your very soul, and destroys your life. In the following parable in John 18:21-35 (the Message) Jesus speaks of unforgiveness and its consequences.
At that point Peter got up the nerve to ask, “Master, how many times do I forgive a brother or sister who hurts me? Seven?”
“The kingdom of God is like a king who decided to square accounts with his servants. As he got under way, one servant was brought before him who had run up a debt of a hundred thousand dollars. He couldn’t pay up, so the king ordered the man, along with his wife, children, and goods, to be auctioned off at the slave market.
“The poor wretch threw himself at the king’s feet and begged, ‘Give me a chance and I’ll pay it all back.’ Touched by his plea, the king let him off, erasing the debt.
“The servant was no sooner out of the room when he came upon one of his fellow servants who owed him ten dollars. He seized him by the throat and demanded, ‘Pay up. Now!’
“The poor wretch threw himself down and begged, ‘Give me a chance and I’ll pay it all back.’ But he wouldn’t do it. He had him arrested and put in jail until the debt was paid. When the other servants saw this going on, they were outraged and brought a detailed report to the king.
“The king summoned the man and said, ‘You evil servant! I forgave your entire debt when you begged me for mercy. Shouldn’t you be compelled to be merciful to your fellow servant who asked for mercy?’ The king was furious and put the screws to the man until he paid back his entire debt. And that’s exactly what my Father in heaven is going to do to each one of you who doesn’t forgive unconditionally anyone who asks for mercy.”
One day when I begged for mercy, Jesus Christ forgave me. His grace forgave all my debt. He looked past all that I had done―all that I owed Him, and paid the debt with His life. He looked beyond my fault, heard the cry of my heart, and erased all my debt. I didn't deserve this kind of unmerited favor that would die for me. But grace is not about what I deserve! If it was I would be forever lost in the grip of sin with no hope. Grace is about the greatest love that forgave my sin, and paid my debt in full!
When I asked Jesus Christ into my life, I received His mercy. When someone asks for forgiveness I am called to extend mercy. If He forgave me, how can I not also forgive someone who asks? If I do not forgive others their sins, God will not forgive my sins (Matthew 6:15). Like a flowing stream, grace must never be withheld. It must flow from His life to mine, and from mine to others. If I withhold mercy, I will drown in the stagnant water of my own making. The Holy Spirit will retreat from my life, and I shall be held in the bondage of despair from all that I have lost.
Forgiveness sets me free. It frees my heart and another person's life. It protects me from the prison of unforgiveness where debt seeks payment. Forgiveness keeps my heart and spirit soft and pliable in the hands of the Master who forgave me. When His grace in my life is unconditionally extended, I come to truly understand the love that died for me.