“Forgive us our debts,” Jesus taught us to pray, “as we forgive our debtors” (Matt. 6:12 nkjv).

This is a hard teaching.

The more someone has hurt us, the harder it is to forgive. The Greek term for “forgiveness” (_aphiemi_) comes from a word that means “to let go.” Forgiveness is a release, a letting go of self-destructive feelings like anger, bitterness, and revenge.

Yet forgiveness also brings great joy, not only to the forgiven, but especially to the forgiver. Richard Wurmbrand, who were jailed for believing in God, once met a man who had experienced the divine release that comes through forgiveness. Wurmbrand was in a Communist prison in Romania at the time, lying in a prison cell reserved for those who were dying. In the cot on his right was a pastor who had been beaten so badly that he was about to die. On his left was the very man who had beaten him, a Communist who was later betrayed and tortured by his comrades.

One night the Communist awakened in the middle of a nightmare and cried out, “Please, pastor, say a prayer for me. I have committed such crimes, I cannot die.” The pastor feebly got up, stumbled past Wurmbrand’s cot, and sat at the bedside of his enemy.

As he watched, Wurmbrand saw the pastor caress the hair of the man who had tortured him and speak these amazing words: “I have forgiven you with all of my heart, and I love you. If I who am only a sinner can love and forgive you, more so can Jesus who is the Son of God and who is love incarnate. Return to Him. He longs for you much more than you long for Him. He wishes to forgive you much more than you wish to be forgiven. You just repent.” There, in the prison cell, the Communist began to confess all his murders and tortures. When he had finished, the two men prayed together, embraced, and then returned to their beds, where each died that very night.

The Romanian pastor had learned how to forgive. He had learned this from Jesus, who first forgave his debts, and then taught him to forgive his debtors. This same Jesus forgives us and delivers us, for by His death on the cross He has cancelled our debt and destroyed the power of the Devil.

4 October-2017