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Recently a really painful email arrived from a man in England. Here it is. “Pastor John, how can I forgive my parents? I’ve been a Christian for seventeen years but struggle with forgiveness of my parents for my abusive childhood. I know that the Lord teaches forgiveness, as does the Bible in many passages. I’m able to forgive others injustices and wrongs, but I really struggle with memories of my childhood. It brings resentment to mind.
“Not only is forgiveness taught in the Bible, but it also says I should honor my parents. I feel like a failure as a Christian. I’m 47 years old with a family of my own, and I feel such resentment, even hate and rage, sometimes at my parents for the physical and mental abuse I suffered at their hands. Please help me to understand how I can get peace over this matter and try to forgive them, a forgiveness that lasts for all time, not just until another memory surfaces.”
Suggestions - Scripture - Issue - Jesus - Heart
I have three practical suggestions based on Scripture, but first, let me say how utterly crucial I think this issue is. I’m glad, so glad, that it’s been asked. Jesus teaches that an unforgiving heart is an unforgiven heart. Let me say that again: Jesus teaches that an unforgiving heart is an unforgiven heart.
“And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors” (Matthew 6:12). Make it correspond. And he follows up with this: “For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6:14–15). Then, in Matthew 18, you remember, he tells the parable of the unforgiving servant, and that makes the same point. All that just to say, this is serious.
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