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  • Writer's pictureKaren Pennington

Healing Truth #2- In Christ I Have Complete Forgiveness

God's forgiveness is priceless, but it's not quite free. Still, the payouts are eternally greater than the small price we must pay of surrendering our harmful thoughts and attitudes. It's like exchanging our garbage for God's glory.

This truth came alive to me when I had a challenging renter who among other things cost me the equivalent of about a third of my net annual salary at the time. I originally struggled to find a way to make her pay, even after she was long gone. God called me to a higher way, to release her from her debt to me and allow God to fill the gap she had created.

As I wrestled with God over the matter, I eventually heard this quiet inner voice say to me "Karen, I only want you to forgive her as much as you want me to forgive you." That settled things for me, by far the greater debtor. I paid the small price of forgiving a few months of monetary debt, and thus releasing my claim to judgement and criticism, in exchange for a lifetime of peace and freedom from the eternal debt I had incurred through sins against my LORD. Forgiveness is priceless, but it's not quite free.

Matthew 18:18-35 tells the story of a merciful king who forgave a debt that defied imagination. The servant owed 10,000 talents of gold, which represented a weight equivalent to about 750,000 pounds, or 375 tons. Talk about a heavy debt, quite literally!

By some estimates just one talent of gold could have been sold for the equivalent of as much as 500 years (or 10-20 lifetimes) of wages for the common servant of the day. And that servant owed 10,000 talents! This begs the questions of just what kind of activities that man must have been involved with in order to create such a chasm of indebtedness to his master.

No matter what purchases, or felt needs, or sins led to that man to spend such a mind blowing amount of money that wasn't his, the king was ready and willing to forgive the entire amount. All the man had to do was open his hands to receive the grace.

And yet his fists remained closed. He simply could not open them to share the same kind of grace with another man who owed him 100 days pay. To be sure, one third of a years wages might seem a grand amount (as it was with my renter), until one recognizes that the unmerciful servant had been forgiven a debt that was about 18,000 times as much as what he was owed. Yet because the this unwise man was unwilling to open up his hands to release his monetary judgement upon another, his hands were also closed to the mercy that the master had wished to give him.

Similarly, the key to unlocking God's complete forgiveness and freedom in our lives is our complete forgiveness, of both ourselves and others. As Matthew 6:15 puts it:

"If you do not forgive others their sins, your father will not forgive your sins."

And yet Romans 8:1 reminds us of the rewards awaiting us when we truly and fully surrender to Christ, including releasing others from our grasp of judgement:

"There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus."

God has so much to give us. But we cannot have our hands open and our arms held wide to receive the fullness of God's blessing, while at the same time closing our fist to hold onto our damaging judgement and poisonous unforgiveness of others. And when you really think about it, why would we want to?

Forgiveness is priceless. It's not quite free, but the price is more than well worth it, an eternal investment that will never stop giving.

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