“At the end of every 7 years you shall grant a release. And this is the manner of the release: every creditor shall release what he has lent to his neighbor…But there will be no poor among you, for the LORD will bless you in the land that the LORD your God is giving you for an inheritance to possess—if only you will strictly obey the voice of the LORD your God…For the LORD your God will bless you, as he promised you.” Deuteronomy 15:1-6a
This morning I did something I haven’t done in a long time. I prayed for the person I’ve been struggling to forgive. I had forgotten that this is an important part of the process. But God brought it to mind as I was praying before opening His Word. So, even though I cringed a bit and even thinking their name was a little difficult, I faithfully began to pray.
Not for “justice.” Not for the person to “realize what they did” or for others to recognize it and call them out. No, I prayed for their welfare. For the state of their heart. God softened and opened my heart so that I could pray sincerely for the strengthening and blessing of their family. For the Holy Spirit to be at work in them, for the Word of God to break through the surface, piercing through every barrier, penetrating the crevices of their heart, rooting out all sin so that they are entirely surrendered, humbled, and awed before the throne of God. So that they will be the person God desires them to be, poured out without hindrance to be filled to overflowing with Christ, experiencing fully the effects of His grace and power within them.
It was quite a remarkable moment. A blessing to my heart. And a miracle on the part of my God—evidence that He’s been working in me. Because forgiveness is hard. It seems pretty much impossible a lot of the time. But God knows what forgiveness means. He knows how to get there. He knows every piece of the process. Knowing the benefits of forgiving and the countless negative effects of bitterness, He wants to teach us how to forgive completely, how to trust Him enough to let go and truly desire good even for our “enemies.”
I want to share how God spoke to my heart when I read this passage in Deuteronomy 15. It was a couple weeks ago when I saw this, and I’m certain it was a step toward where I am this morning (and where God is still leading me).
Every 7 years, the Israelites were to release any and all debts for their brothers. There’s a promise kept in this commandment that I think is so powerful and applicable to our lives. When I choose to release—fully—a “debt” owed, I can trust that I will not be left wanting. “There will be no poor among you.” God will fill every need. He will fill me with Himself—that beautiful, satisfying, ever-flowing fountain of life, joy, and peace.
In the land that God is giving me—the life He is leading me into—He will bless me. So I have nothing to fear by releasing the debt others owe me. Whether it’s a literal debt or one I perceive as a result of pain or difficulty caused by someone else. The debt that unforgiveness clings to.
If only I will obey the voice of my Lord, if I will cling to Christ and strive to follow Him always, if I will live obediently and seek to honor Him in everything—if only I will do this, He promises to bless me and fill every void. I can trust Him with the debt. I can trust Him with me. I can trust Him with the one who caused the hurt. I can trust Him enough to release. He will not fail.
“He who did not spare His own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” Romans 8:32
“For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly…God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:6, 8
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” John 3:16-17