“And do not judge and you will not be judged; and do not condemn, and you will not be condemned; pardon and you will be pardoned.” Luke 6:37
I know someone who has been angry with her father for years. When she was a child, her father sometimes used ugly words to discipline her, and he had an anger that was unpredictable. His words crushed her spirit and kindled an anger in his daughter that has still not been quenched.
Like many people, this young woman feels justified in her anger toward her father. Although she knows that God wants her to forgive him, she doesn’t want to let him off the hook so easily. She doesn’t want to give him an opportunity to try to restore their relationship, because she doesn’t want to make herself vulnerable to him again. She wants to keep him at arm’s distance because he is distasteful to her.
What she doesn’t realize is that by refusing to forgive him, she has put herself in prison. She is a convict. Look at the scripture below, which is the same scripture as the one at the beginning of this article, but translated directly from the original Greek (from the Online Greek Interlinear Bible):
No be ye judging and not no ye-may-be-being judged
No be ye convicting and not no ye-may-be-being convicted
Ye-be-from-loosing (be ye releasing) and ye-shall-be-being-from-loosed (ye-shall-be-being-released)
When we “convict” someone–declare someone guilty of an offense–we then become guilty ourselves. At the same time that we put someone behind bars in our minds, the prison bars slam around us as well with a resounding clang. We are then convicts, just like those who are behind bars in jails across the world, except our bars are invisible, and, in fact, spiritual.
But if we look even closer at the actual Greek, we’ll see that when we convict someone, we are fettered by more than just bars around us. Look at the actual Greek wording: be ye from loosing. This implies that we aren’t just behind bars. We are tied in ropes or chains. We therefore have no freedom at all. And when you are tied up, you can think of little else, except the desire for freedom.
God doesn’t put these bars around us. We do. We know this because we can just as easily free ourselves by releasing those who hurt us from their offense. Note the wording above: be ye releasing. This is why God asks us to forgive. He wants us to be free.
But think about this: because we cannot free ourselves until we free our offenders, we are in actuality tied up together with them. Have you ever seen the comedies where people end up getting handcuffed together? They can’t get rid of each other, no matter how hard they try. They keep dragging the other person around with them everywhere they go. This is in actuality what this young woman is doing…dragging her father around with her everywhere she goes.
By forgiving, we not only release others from their offenses, but we set ourselves free. This doesn’t mean that God has forgotten the offense against us. Dealing with such offenses is God’s purview, not ours. And God has already put a natural law into place: people who sin against us will reap what they sow.
So would we rather drag our offenders around with us, or do we want to release them and ourselves, and let God handle it?