Remember when...? That's a question we hear a lot this time of year. Reminiscing with family and friends, we browse through Christmases gone by, enjoying the memories until inevitably, we stumble across the memories we would rather forget.
Suddenly, the pain comes rushing back. The sting of a parent's criticism, the broken promise of a friend, the rejections, the disappointments, the heartaches....
What should we do with memories like that? Do we have to drag them along, like so much baggage, from year to year?
No. We can leave them behind. In fact, we must leave them behind. And there's only one way to do it—through forgiveness.
Forgiving someone sounds like a simple thing to do. Yet few of us actually do it. We treat forgiveness as if it were one of life's additional options, something we can take or leave alone. But it's not. It's a basic requirement for every believer. In fact, as far as God is concerned, unforgiveness is wickedness. And in Matthew 18, Jesus tells a parable that illustrates the terrible consequences of it. The parable involves a servant who owed his lord a debt equivalent to millions of dollars. When the debt came due, he pleaded with his master, "Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all" (verse 26). His master was so moved that he canceled the entire debt!
Soon after, that same servant sought out a man who owed him $15. Finding him unable to pay, he ignored the man's pleas for mercy and had him cast into prison.
When his lord heard about it, he was incensed. He called him a wicked servant and delivered him to the tormentors until he paid all that was due.
Look again at the size of that unforgiven debt. Fifteen dollars. The little debts are the ones that most often trip us up. The petty resentments between husband and wife, between brother and sister. Tiny bits of unforgiveness that seem too insignificant to bother with. Beware. Those are the kinds of debts Satan uses to torment you.
After all, Jesus paid off a mountain of debts for you. You can afford to be generous about the nickel and dime debts of others.
Spend time with the Holy Spirit, allowing Him to reveal the unforgiveness in you. Then repent and release it. Make this Christmas more than just a time for remembering. Make it a time to forget.