Some people keep a long list of all the wrongs that people have done. They are still holding others accountable for the debt they owe from years ago. Another way to describe this is unforgiveness.
For the person who holds onto unforgiveness, the one they’re hurting the most is themselves. One must learn to let go and erase that ledger of debt; then, and only then, will they be released from the pain that has held them captive all these years.
Jesus told a story to address this situation:
A king wanted to make his accounts current. So, one of his debtors, who owed him a million dollars, was brought before him. When the man begged for forgiveness, the king felt pity for him. And he released him and forgave his debt.
After the man left the king, he went to someone who owed him a few thousand dollars. Then, he grabbed him by the throat and demanded payment. The king found out what had happened. And the king called in the man, whom he had forgiven, and said, “You evil servant! I forgave you that tremendous debt because you pleaded with me. Shouldn’t you have mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you?’“(Matthew 18:22-23)
If someone holds resentment against their offender, they must be willing to surrender it and let it go. When a person looks at the price Jesus paid for them, they should feel compelled to forgive others. Forgiveness will free the victim from the torture of festering resentment.
Writing off the debt that someone owes is only possible when the victim admits their struggle to God, themselves, and another person.
Life Recovery Step Five says, “We admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.”
Don’t know a safe human being? Find someone like a licensed Christian counselor, Life Recovery Group leader, or accountability partner. Next, explain to them what the offender did, talk about any painful emotions, and then begin the process of forgiving. A person can work through forgiveness by writing a letter to the person who offended them. It is unnecessary to send the letter—especially if it isn’t safe. But by writing out difficult emotions on paper, healing can begin.
No one can change what others have done to hurt them, but they can write off their debts by handing the accounting process over to God.
by Steve Arterburn