“Then summoning the first slave, his master said to him, ‘You wicked slave! I forgave all that debt because you pleaded with me. Wasn’t it necessary for you also to show mercy to your fellow slave, just as I showed mercy to you?’ Enraged, the master handed him over to the torturers until he paid back all he owed. “So also My heavenly Father will do to you, unless each of you, from your hearts, forgives his brother.”Matthew 18:32- 35 TLV
Like most Jewish believers, when Daniah and I first came to faith in Yeshua, my Jewish family was not exactly pleased that their son was now a Jesus freak. Family relationships are complicated, aren’t they? In today’s world—Jewish or Christian—many families would not be pleased with someone who makes a profound commitment to following Yeshua (Jesus). Sad.
For me, there were hurtful actions taken against me. The words they spoke to us cut into my soul. And for years these attitudes endured toward us, and the hurt grew.
In Judaism, the orthodox community places great importance on Halacha—certain laws that take precedence over another. In Matthew 18:32- 34, Yeshua sets forth, not only a precedent but a Halacha in forgiveness. So how does this verse relate to our relationship with the God of Israel, our Messiah Yeshua; or the Holy Spirit? Even more practically, how does it relate to our God-pleasing relationships with others, especially with our family?
My brother and I had a very complicated relationship. On one hand, he applauded what we were becoming in Yeshua. Seems like a good thing, right? But, he applauded Daniah and I only because we were so “out of the Box” from the Jewish norm. On the other hand, his desire for “out of the box” norms sometimes diametrically opposed our Biblical values.
Honestly, back then, grace was not something I understood very well. There was a growing resentment, frustration, and other emotions I am not proud of. And he in turn, hurt me and my family deeply. Through the years we found ourselves spending less and less time together. And the divide became wider.
A few years ago, I got the phone call that my brother had died. Suddenly, I realized that there was no way for us to “work things out.” How could we resolve the unresolvable?
After a few very difficult days wrestling with that fact, I was led to a simple revelation, the only way to resolve the unresolvable was to begin with forgiveness. The only way for me to forgive him for all the hurt was… just forgive.
Once I did that, the words of Yeshua rang through my head:
“For if you forgive others their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions.”Matthew 6:14-15 TLV
Today, I choose to remember things that I loved about my brother. How fun and unpredictable he was. How proud he was of my accomplishments, but more important… that he introduced me to Daniah. Without him, I may not have the family that blesses me today!
Maybe this Yom Kippur, the Lord is asking for you to resolve the unresolvable, to truly forgive your family and friends. What if he is asking you to forgive yourself? Through this part of my journey, I have come to understand that forgiveness always leads to freedom. So, set yourself and your loved ones free! Forgive!
May the Love of our Messiah transform you from glory to glory! •