Jesus said, “If you forgive someone’s sins, they’re gone for good. But if you don’t forgive sins, what are you going to do with them?” (John 20:23, The Message)
The Greek word that is translated “forgive” in this verse is apheimi – “to send away.” If we don’t send away the sins others commit against us, what’s the alternative?
The Greek word used in this verse to mean the opposite of sending away is “krateo”, which means “to use strength, seize, or retain.” It is the same word used in Revelation where Jesus says, “Hold fast that which you have, and let no one take your crown.” It is the same word used when Herod had John the Baptist arrested. It is the same word used of the arrest of Jesus in the garden. It is the same word used in the crucifixion account when the men who came for Jesus laid hold of a certain young man who was following Jesus. The young man got away, naked, but the men who tried to lay hold of him found themselves holding on to a sheet that he had wrapped himself in.
If you send away someone’s sins, they are gone from you. But if you don’t send them away, you have laid hold upon them. Much like the men who tried to grab Jesus’ friend and ended up holding an empty sheet instead, you will find that the offender has escaped while you are retaining the effects of their actions. There’s really not a third option. Choose freedom. You’ll be glad you did.