The One Year® Chronological Bible, NKJV (Tyndale, 2013), March 16
Not a day goes by that forgiveness isn’t required. By me. By others.
You owe me honor and affirmation.
You owe me an apology.
You owe me forgiveness.
You owe me a pay increase or a promotion.
You owe me gratitude.
You owe me quality time.
You owe me my inheritance.
You owe me for broken promises or broken items.
You owe me exoneration from false accusations.
The list is as long as your grievances with others. Holding people captive comes in many forms.
Early in Israel’s history, God established every seventh year as a year of liberation for fellow Israelites who owed a debt. Moses wrote of this practice in Deuteronomy 15 and especially applied it to a brother, “Of a foreigner you may require it; but you shall give up your claim to what is owed by your brother” (Deut. 15:3). The people of God are to be people who practice forgiveness.
In Israel’s future, instead of offering release, the people in Jerusalem will enslave those among them who cannot pay what they owe. The LORD instructs Jeremiah to confront the Jews for the deplorable treatment of one another, “that every man should set free his male and female slave—a Hebrew man or woman—that no one should keep a Jewish brother in bondage” (Jeremiah 34:9). At first they agree to release those in bondage, but then they renege on their promise and enslave again those who had been released.
Christians today live like those Israelites, holding on to claims owed them by brothers and sisters in Christ. God commands that you “give up your claim to what is owed you by your brother” (Deut. 15:3). What claims are you holding against others–a sister in the Lord who hurt you long ago, a husband whose thoughtlessness or self-centeredness has created a claim in your heart, a fellow church member whose words have cut to the heart, or even someone who owes you tangibly in money, possessions, or time–that you need to release today?
Perhaps this day could become your day of release, where you “let go” of those who owe you something. Release your fellow brother or sister in Christ, and you will find release for yourself—release from anxiety, stress, and bitterness. You will discover that you were the one held prisoner.
Unforgiveness is like drinking poison to hurt the one against whom you have the claim. Let it go today–you can be free.
Questions from today’s reading (Deuteronomy 13:1-16:17):
What does God command of Israel should one of their members commit idolatry or influence another to do so? What will this require of Israel?
What rule does the LORD give Israel to prevent Israelites from indenturing one another? What does the giving of this regulation reveal about human nature?