I want to share something with you from my homework. I had never thought about this before. Perhaps you have. The one who sinned against you is a believer. They acted out in their flesh and hurt you deeply. Do you view them as your sibling in the family of God? Do you view them apart from Jesus’ death on the cross?
He paid for all your sins with His own blood. He paid for all the sins of the one who sinned against you with His shed blood. There is no difference. The sins done against you are not in a special category. Sin is sin in the eyes of the Lord.
I want to go to the story of the prodigal son. He wasted his inheritance. He was destitute and thought of his father’s house. He mulled over in his mind about going back and asking if he could be one of his father’s servants. Luke 15:19 recorded his thoughts on what he would say. It says, “And I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants.”
He began the journey back to his father’s house. Watch this great emotional drama unfold. Picture this in your mind. The father was waiting all this time, and watching to see if his son would return. Can you feel his heartbeat of longing? He loved his son unconditionally.
Verse 20 says, “…But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him.” Verse 24 were the father’s triumphant words, “For this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found. And they began to make merry.”
The father and the son were separated. Yet the father’s love never waned, even though the son had taken what his father had laid up for him before it was time. Verse 13 says, “…and there he wasted his possessions with prodigal living.” The father was not focused on his son’s past behavior, he met him in the present.
The story of the prodigal son can be likened to one who has sinned against us. It is so easy to hold onto past hurts. We forget that they are our siblings. We are joint heirs together with Jesus. We are still part of God’s family no matter what we have done.
Unforgiveness brings heart-estrangement. It causes families to be divided. We know that a family united is equipped to weather any storm in strained relationships through their bonds of love. Let’s continue the narrative with the older son.
He was out working in the field when he heard music and dancing. The father entreated him to come and celebrate. Verse 27 says that when the servant told him that his brother had returned, he reacted in anger. His father entreated him to join in the merriment. He retaliated with words that speak of years of buried emotional pain.
The father spoke from his heart in verse 31 which says, “…Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours.” The narrative ends without the siblings being united in heart. That is what happens in unforgiveness. Holding onto the hurt, draws up the heart like a drawbridge to a castle. The entrance is blocked for repentance and reconciliation.
1 Peter 1:22 says, “Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart.” There will always be tension in our relationships when we hold something against another. Unforgiveness reveals a disobedient heart that has failed to remember that we are to forgive AS we have been forgiven.