My dad was a jailer in our county’s sheriff’s department for a number of years. I officiated at his funeral and gave the eulogy. I will never forget the massive number of people in attendance and how many of them that came to me later and told me what a great influence he had been in their lives. He was not an outwardly religious man. But, somehow he managed to touch a lot of people. Person after person told me how he had been kind to them and had taken the time to talk with them about their troubles and had pointed them to a better way of living than the one they were on. Until he died I really didn’t know what a good man he really was. I do remember one thing he told me he learned about his experience as a jailer. He said “when someone is put in jail there are actually two people put in that jail, the prisoner and the jailer. You can’t have a prisoner without a jailer”. Both of them loose their freedom”.
I have been lied to. I have been deceived. I have been stolen from. I have been cheated and cheated on. Often I felt justified that I had a right to be angry and perhaps a few times I was. There are many terrible sins in the world that one can commit against you that give you the right to be angry. There is theft. There is lying. There is fornication. There is adultry. But, everyone of these sins can be forgiven with true remorse and repentance to the person you have wronged and to God. Sometimes the punishment for these sins is death but, there is always the possibility of repentance and forgiveness before death. Some of these sins may follow you for the rest of your life. We are painfully aware when someone has a reputation as a thief, a liar an adulterer or a murderer. Yet, there is a greater sin that goes nearly unnoticed and I am guilty of that sin. We often see it and usually are dismissive of it. It is the one thing that no one, especially one that calls himself a christian has the right to do. No one has the right to be unforgiving. In The Lord’s prayer we read “forgive us our sins as we forgive those that have sinned against us”. That’s right, our forgiveness is predicated on our forgiving others. Here is one of Jesus parables from Matthew.
Matthew 18:23 “Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. 24 When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents.25 And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. 26 So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ 27 And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. 28 But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii,and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay what you owe.’ 29 So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ 30 He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt. 31 When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place. 32 Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. 33 And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ 34 And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. 35 So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”
My dad was definitely on to something. When you are unforgiving and hold something against someone it effects both of you. You are both in jail and in that jail you will remain until the debt is forgiven. No one has the right to not forgive.