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Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Debt-Collecting: Not Receiving His Forgiveness

(Matthew 18:23-28,30,34-35)
Parable of the Unmerciful Servant

In the parable of the unmerciful servant Jesus shared His teaching about forgiveness. Filled with great spiritual insight this parable explains the consequences of forgiveness and unforgiveness with a depth that only Jesus could impart. Jesus knows what is in each one of us at the very deepest level. “So,” David Seamands writes, “we should expect His truth, His teachings, to contain the most penetrating psychological truths” (Healing of Damaged Emotions).

Debt-collecting (unforgiveness) causes emotional problems that result in feelings of guilt that tear us apart–resentment that hardens our heart–striving that keeps us on the treadmill of never being or doing quite enough, and anxiety that robs us of peace. If we believe in Jesus Christ as our Savior, we have NO debt in our life. But until we are able to receive and live out God's unconditional forgiving grace and until we are able to impart His forgiving grace, we will forever be striving to collect payment to pay debts we don't owe.

“May of us are like that servant in the parable,” Seamands writes. “Because he misunderstood the offer the lord gave him, he pled for an extension of time. And what happened? The lord in his mercy gave him far more than he asked for, more than he could ever dream about or pray for. He released him and forgave him all his debts.” Guess what? The servant never heard what his master said. He didn't understand his debt had been totally forgiven. He believed he still owed the debt and had only been given more time to pay. So he tried to collect a debt from someone who owed him so he could pay his master a debt he no longer owed.

Are some of us like that? Do we say we believe in God's grace and that we are forgiven, but that is not how we live? We might say that grace is God's undeserved favor, but if we don't feel it down in our innermost being then we are caught on the treadmill of constantly striving to be better. So many Christians try to get rid of their guilt by trying to work harder at it. The terrible tormentors of resentment, striving, and anxiety take their toll. These Christians end up punishing themselves by creating more suffering for themselves and others. They find that they are unable to atone for that which only God can atone. So many know in their minds that they are forgiven, but can't feel His forgiveness and love in their hearts. They don't get it in their spiritual “gut” that grace is free and can never be repaid.

“If you refuse to forgive others,” Jesus said, “your Father will not forgive you of your sins” (Matthew 6:15, NLT). “There is no forgiveness from God,” Seamands writes, “unless you freely forgive your brother from your heart. And I wonder if we have been too narrow in thinking that brother only applies to someone else. What if you are the brother or sister that needs to be forgiven, and you need to forgive yourself? Does it not apply to you, too? The Lord says to forgive your enemies. What if you are your own worst enemy? Anger and resentment against yourself–a refusal to forgive–these are just as damaging when directed at yourself as when they are directed against other people.”

If you are unable to experience God's forgiveness, then you may be on this treadmill of striving, and achieving what you believe will make God love you more. If you want to experience God's unmerited grace in your deepest being, quit trying so hard to atone for what only God's grace can take care of. Be sure you have not only asked Him into your heart, but that you also seek Him as Lord of your life. Choose to believe that He can change you. Only He can reveal His grace in your deepest being. Slow down and quit striving mentally and emotionally. Tell Him you want to forgive yourself so that you will no longer live in a perpetual state of debt-collecting. You can only choose to forgive. You can't make yourself emotionally feel it. But He can. Don't analyze. Don't strive. Allow Him to seep into the depths of your soul. Ask Him to set you free from the “I'm not worthy" mindset that keeps you from receiving His forgiveness. One day you will not only know that you are debt-free. You will feel His forgiveness and give it unreservedly to others with a love and freedom that only He can impart.

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