Perhaps you know the story. (Genesis 27)
Jacob had tricked his brother Esau out of his birthright. Esau was furious. His preference would have been to get even. He was bigger and stronger. Jacob had tricked him before. He had every right to seek revenge. No one would have blamed him.
What did his father advise?
You’ll live by your sword, hand-to-mouth, and you’ll serve your brother. But when you can’t take it any more you’ll break loose and run free. (Genesis 27:40 Message Version)
The English Standard Version says, “you shall break his yoke from your neck.”
I think what Isaac, Esau’s father, was sharing with his son was that the pain of disappointment would be difficult. Jacob would triumph even in his trickery. Esau would indeed lose his birthright. It would be difficult to accept.
I think, however, that Isaac, with his wisdom gained through years of experience, also shared with his son an important truth. Once Esau grew weary of his unforgiving spirit and he finally offered Jacob forgiveness, Esau could be free to fully live at peace again.
Isaac knew what it sometimes takes years for people to understand. When you choose to forgive the one who hurt you, you get the monkey of bondage that comes from an unforgiving spirit off your back. Offering forgiveness brings freedom to the one who injured, as well as to the one that did the injuring.
To whom do you need to extend forgiveness so you can freely live again?