Releasing Resentment

Matthew 18:21—19:1
Jos 3:7-10a,11,13-17 / Psa 114

I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.
(Matthew 18:22)

We forget what forgiveness means
When we’re offended or betrayed;
Lord, remind us of our own sins,
And Your mercy in times we strayed.

Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times. Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. As he began the settlement, a man who owed him a huge amount was brought to him. Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt. At this the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go. But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded. His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’ But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened. The master summoned him and told him, ‘You wicked servant, I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed. This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.” (Matthew 18:21–19:1)

Reflection

It is the wise man who easily forgives the wrongs done to him by his fellowmen. Our Lord Jesus gave us this practical advice on forgiveness to spare us the emotional baggage (and the disease that may result from it) of refusing to forgive. My earliest lesson on the subject came from my own father who taught us that when someone offended him in a major way which was hard to forgive, he just followed a verse in the Bible, which says, “Vengeance is mine, says the Lord” (Rom.12:19). Lifting up his grievance to God made him feel better, knowing that God’s justice never fails. He would just say, “I have forgiven him. He will have to answer to God for what he did.

I also learned from my father that harboring a resentment can be contaminating if allowed to fester. If someone has done you a grave offense, the guilt must be his alone, and not “spill over” to his relatives or friends. The person responsible for the untimely death of our youngest brother has many siblings, some of whom were old friends. Of course we could no longer associate with them, but we never blamed any of them for the act of their brother, who had managed to escape to the USA. In fact we also felt the sadness of losing their friendship, and remain cordial to one another.

The lessons taught in the Bible on the subject of forgiveness are truly nuggets of wisdom. For instance, Proverbs says, “It is good sense in a man to be slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense” (Prov.19:11). The same book says, “If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat, if thirsty, give him to drink; for live coals you will heap on his head, and the Lord will vindicate you” (Prov.25:21-22). A man who shows no anger or resentment in the face of insult or injustice, but instead returns it with patience and kindness wins the admiration and respect of his peers. And more important than this, God will surely reward him for showing that he is His child.

Let us forgive all the wrongs that were inflicted on us, because unless we do, we will always feel the bitterness that Satan had planted in our heart. If we find it hard to “let go” and give up the resentment that we feel, ask for God’s help in prayer. He alone has the antidote for this vile ailment of unforgiveness. Remember what our Lord said: “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.” (Matthew 19:1)

Help us, dear God, when we are inclined to hate our neighbors for the injuries that they may have inflicted upon us. Make us realize that their offenses are insignificant compared to the sins that we had committed that sent our Lord Jesus to Calvary. Grant us the grace to forgive our enemies so that Your message of love may endure and prevail against the real enemy’s evil schemes. Thank You for Your lessons on the power of forgiveness. Amen.

Comments are closed.