If you are having a hard time forgiving, I understand.
Forgiveness is Expensive.
Forgiveness brings freedom, but it is also expensive. To forgive means I agree to live with the consequences of the wrong. If someone robs me of $27,000 and I forgive him, $27,000 doesn’t appear in my bank account. If someone steals my innocence, forgiving doesn’t erase the memory and pain from the abuse.
Jesus illustrated this when He told about a servant who owed his king a debt so large he could never repay it (Matthew 18:23-35). The king commanded that the servant, his wife, children, and all he owned be sold to repay his debt.
26 “At this the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ 27 The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.”
When the king forgave the debt, no one replaced his losses.
In reality we live with the consequences of being wronged whether we forgive or not. Many wrongs can’t be retracted even if the perpetrator wanted to. But forgiveness will free us from bitterness so we can heal.
It doesn’t seem fair. They wrong us, and we live with their debt. But in this story, the king represents God not us. I am the servant who owed a debt too large to repay.
Maybe you don’t see your sin against God as being that bad. But consider the cost of sin.
If an angry teenager speeds through your neighborhood and barely misses hitting your child, the driver momentarily steals your peace. But if the driver hits your child, she’s stolen immeasurably more. The greater the loss—the greater the debt.
That is why Jesus is our supreme example and reason to forgive. You and I will never have to go to hell because of someone’s sin against us. But my sin caused Jesus to suffer hell on the cross. We forgive because Christ paid for the sins committed against us and by us. Our sins cost Him so much more than this person’s wrong will ever cost us.
It was expensive for God to forgive our sin. And it costs us to forgive another’s offense, but to not forgive is more expensive. In Jesus’ story, the forgiven servant refused to forgive a fellow servant who owed him little in comparison to what he’d been forgiven. When the king heard this he turned the unforgiving servant over to the tormentors.
Anyone who has harbored bitterness has met the tormentors. Every time we see or think of the one who hurt us, we—not they—are tortured. Bitterness poisons its owner.
Because Christ has forgiven my greater debt I don’t need to collect an apology, love, acknowledgment of the wrong, or anything else to prosper. I can afford to forgive someone’s debt because my King meets my needs.
It feels expensive to let it go, but it costs more to hold the grudge. Forgive and let God turn the awful loss into awesome gain.
Deborah W. Wilson
P.S. The song Above All remembers the price Jesus paid.
 Matthew 18:26-27 (NIV)