“August 22–Neither forgotten nor forgiven”
“Blood does not get erased”
These phrases are prominently scrawled in red graffiti right now on the central square of our state’s capital. Slogans such as these regularly pop up in our region, visible signs of the anger some have towards the government. Graffiti-marred buildings receive fresh coats of paint, only to be vandalized again within weeks. On and on the cycle goes, with slighted people insisting they will never let the government off the hook.
Unforgiveness is a significant spiritual stronghold in our region. Feuds dating back over a hundred years between villages flare up with regularity, leaving new blood spilled each time. Family members refuse to speak to one another for years over wrongs committed long ago. Villagers still carry noticeable bitterness over the Spanish conquest of the 1500s.
Wrongs are exactly that–wrong. No excuse exists ever for hatred, injustice, and oppression of one person or group towards another. But until the cycle of unforgiveness is broken, a people always live in bondage. Every person who walks this planet has wronged another and been wronged by another. Only the forgiveness made available through Jesus Christ breaks this cycle and brings freedom.
Once I heard a Mixed-language Bible translator in our region relate a legend told in the villages where she was working. I don’t remember the whole story, but the gist of it was something like this: A boy is wronged by people close to him. Later, through an encounter with an animal in the mountains, he gains power and wealth. His mom then comes to him and asks his forgiveness. His short, blunt answer to her is, “No.” End of story.
Jesus told a story of his own about forgiveness, recorded in Matthew 18:23-35:
“Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand talents [this is, millions of dollars] was brought to him. Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.
The servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.
But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii [that is, a few dollars]. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded.
His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.’
But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. When the other servants saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed and went and told their master everything that had happened.
Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.
This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart.”
The Mixed people of southern Mexico aren’t the only ones who struggle with unforgiveness. Maybe some of us also need to forgive someone so that our heavenly Father can forgive us as well.
Please join us in praying the spirit of unforgiveness in our region will be broken. Pray that people here come to know the loving forgiveness of Jesus Christ and begin to forgive one another from the heart.