Let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.
Forgiveness frees us to get on with our life. When I was in college I earned extra income by playing my accordion on the weekends at various get-togethers: weddings, funerals, bar mitzvahs, anything. One day I got a call from a guy who invited me to come to the Fort Worth Country Club to play a dance. He said, “We will pay you $65 for the three hours.” So I loaded up my accordion, drove from Waco to Fort Worth, and played for three hours. We finished about midnight, and I went up to this guy to get my check. “Oh,” he said, “I’m sorry, Robert. I left my checkbook at home, but I’ll put the money in the mail, and you’ll have it by Tuesday.” I said, “Well, okay.” So Tuesday I went to the mailbox and looked in there, but there was no check. Wednesday–no check. Thursday–no check. I called him, and he said, “Oh, I’ve had a little problem, but I promise you will have it by next week.” Next week–no check. I became obsessed with that $65. All I could think about was that $65. I was angry that somebody would cheat me like that. I couldn’t concentrate in class because I was thinking about that $65 and what I was going to do to do that guy. One day it dawned on me that I was a lot more concerned about that $65 than he was. I was the only one who was obsessing over it. He wasn’t giving it a second thought. That’s why forgiveness makes sense a lot of times. It is a way to free us to get on with our lives.
The king in Jesus’s parable in Matthew 18 understood that. The king could have said, “I’m going to make this slave repay me.” And he could have gone down to the royal treasury every day to see if his payment came in. But the king understood he had greater responsibilities in running the kingdom than worrying about this payment. So he said, “The only logical thing to do is to cut my losses and move on with my life.” That’s what forgiveness does. Forgiveness is the procedure God has given each one of us to free ourselves so that we can live the life God has for us.
In Hebrews 12:1, the writer says, “Let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” The writer is saying that the Christian life is like a race. Every runner knows he or she has to travel as lightly as possible. So the writer of Hebrews tells us to lay aside those things that are slowing us down in our Christian lives. One thing he says is to lay aside sin. We all know what sin is, don’t we? But the writer also tells us to set aside “every encumbrance.” These are things in life that aren’t necessarily sinful, but they weigh us down. And nothing will weigh you or me down any more than constantly reliving the hurts of the past and demanding a payment that will never come for the offense committed against us. Forgiveness frees us to get on with our lives.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Forgiveness on Trial” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2015.
Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.