The opposite of forgiveness is unforgiveness, which is like Kryptonite to Superman. We must release it before it harms us.
4:23 Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.
The word, “forgive,” has taken on a meaning for which it was never intended. Most of us think of forgiveness as something we bestow upon someone or withhold from someone. Peter approached Jesus about forgiveness:
21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”
22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times. Matthew 18:21-22
Peter wasn’t thinking about whether or not to bestow forgiveness upon his brothers and sisters. When he asked about forgiving, here is what he had in mind:
aphiémi: to send away, leave alone, permit
Original Word: ἀφίημι
Part of Speech: Verb
Phonetic Spelling: (af-ee’-ay-mee)
Definition: to send away, leave alone, permit
Usage: (a) I send away, (b) I let go, release, permit to depart, (c) I remit, forgive, (d) I permit, suffer.
The definition is “to send away.” Send what away? The first question we must ask is, “Is it the person or the sin (offense, done wrong) that is sent away?” Since the passage is about restoration, peace and harmony among the family, we must assume that it is the offense that is sent away. How does one “send away” an offense? Let’s look at (b) in the usages.
(b) “I let go, release, permit to depart”– Here is where unforgiveness is like Kryptonite to Superman: The offense is a piece of Kryptonite that a person shoves into Superman’s hands. Superman now has a choice to dropkick it into space (like the football) or to clench it tightly to his chest. One rids the world of that piece of Kryptonite altogether; the other one makes Superman weak and sick.
It is the same for us. When we release a wrong, we save ourselves from becoming weak and sick. It is why Jesus said, “seventy-seven times (some interpretations read, “seventy-times-seven”). We must do it every time for our own sakes. It’s not so much about the other person as it is about our own mental and spiritual health. We will suffer each time we think of it unless we release it.
To whom do we release it? For this answer, let’s turn to Jesus:
28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30
This passage includes the offenses that we carry. We are burdened, and weary from carrying them. Jesus wants us to release anything and everything that is weighing us down and making us sick, which includes unforgiveness. The weight of our burdens is transferred through His yoke onto Jesus’ shoulders (a double yoke). He carries our burden for us and has, indeed, already taken them to the grave!
So, for today, let’s try an experiment. When the word, “forgive,” pops into your head, replace it with “release,” and see how it makes you feel. I have a sneaking suspicion that we will feel our burdens lift right off our shoulders and onto His.
Abba, thank You for such provision! Knowing that You want all my burdens so that my yoke is easy and light, thanks to You, makes me want to follow You all the more. Such happy news! You are wonderful! Amen.