“If we hold out waiting to be paid back for the wrongs done to us, we will be the ones who pay. If, on the other hand, we cancel the debt owed to us, we will be set free. . . . From our perspective, we have every right to hold out until we’re paid back. From God’s perspective, it’s possibly the most self-destructive thing we can do.”- Andy Stanley (emphasis author’s)
Today, in Chapter 13 of Enemies of the Heart, Andy Stanley completes his study of Ephesians 4:31-32. Most noteworthy, in verse 31, only a comma separates the word forgiving from the rest of the sentence. Hence, the sentence structure implies that forgiveness provides the means for us to do away with our bitterness, rage, and anger.
However, this forgiveness mirrors the forgiveness God extended toward us in Christ. In fact, the words just as gave Paul confidence to call all people to a standard of behavior most would consider unrealistic. Put another way, just as modifies and upgrades the meaning of forgiveness. The essence of forgiveness, then, centers on a decision to cancel the debt. Consequently, forgiveness isn’t for the benefit of the offender.
In conclusion, Pastor Stanley reminds us, when hurt occurs, there’s a theft. As a result, that creates an imbalance. And the tension remains until the debt is settled or cancelled.
Yet, when we cling to the debt owed us by others, we put ourselves in a prison of sorts. Perhaps, Andy states, that’s why Jesus gave such a stern warning in Matthew 18:35. Therefore, Andy counsels:
“If we demand payment, we will pay. His (Jesus’) warning is severe, because the consequences of ignoring it are severe. Unresolved anger has multigenerational implications. . . . Your pain isn’t a trophy to show off. It’s not a story to tell. It’s potentially poison to your soul. To refuse to forgive is to choose to self-destruct.”
Today’s question: “What Bible verses set you free from your desire to hold out? Please share.
Tomorrow’s blog: “In the shadow of the cross”