Read His Words Before Ours!
“Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” (Matthew 6:12)
There are some concepts that are easily grasped, and there are others that are difficult and may take quite a bit of additional effort to adopt.
In my humble opinion, forgiveness is at the top of the list.
A friend of mine asked a very important question regarding this concept,
“Why do some people find it hard to forgive?”
Well, forgiveness isn’t always straightforward friends; it is as nuanced as the individuals involved on either side. Forgiveness takes effort and intention, often meaning that the end result may simply take time.
Maybe if we let ourselves off the hook by thinking of forgiveness as a journey,
rather than a destination to be reached,
we can release some of the difficultly associated with it.
Our central verse is at the heart of a teachable moment Jesus is having with the disciples who have just asked him how they should pray. The prayer ends with Jesus’ plea for forgiveness of debts, but not just forgiveness on its own.
It is coupled with,
and dependent upon,
the action of the pray-er.
“And forgive us of our debts,” Jesus says,
“as we have also forgiven our debtors.”
Jesus has instructed His disciples to
1.) forgive others
2.) then ask God for our forgiveness
3.) repeat as necessary.
Forgiveness is one of the bookends of the model prayer,
which places it at a high importance for how we should model our lives.
Why exactly would Jesus end the prayer with forgiveness rather than begin with it? Maybe He wanted it to be the last thing they heard.
Maybe it held the greatest weight.
Forgiveness is mentioned in various forms (forgive, forgiven, forgiveness, forgiving) in the Bible many times (at least 150 times).
Because forgiveness is at the root of restoration and healing.
A man who came to Jesus for physical healing, found himself hearing that his sins had been forgiven (Matthew 9:2).
A woman caught in the act of adultery and brought before Jesus, realized she had been restored, when He told her to “go and sin no more” (John 8:11, ESV).
Jesus Himself embodied and represented to us the ultimate act of forgiveness in our restoration at Calvary, when He pleaded with His Father to “Forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing”. (Luke 23:34)
Forgiveness is also about relationship.
Peter needed some clarity on this also. In Matthew 18:21 (NIV), he asks Jesus how many times he must forgive someone (most translations say brother or sister) who has sinned against him. He throws out what he probably feels is an acceptable number: Seven. Jesus counters back and astonishes all within earshot, that he would need to multiply that number times 70 (verse 22).
Because we shouldn’t be able to keep count of the times we are called to forgive others, unless we are willing to have God do the same for us.
Forgiveness is the work of a lifetime, and it frees us from emotional bondage. Sometimes it is immediate, and sometimes years pass before we can admit to ourselves, and to others, that we have forgiven them. I must raise my hand and admit that I am still struggling with how this practically looks and feels in my life. This rings especially true in areas of great vulnerability for me such as friendships and family relationships.
I have given myself grace, because that’s what God does for me.
Just as Jesus calls us to forgive others before we ask forgiveness for ourselves, He reminds us that we are only able to forgive because we have been forgiven much. Our sinful nature places us precariously in the line of righteous judgement, but God through the blood of our advocate Jesus Christ, extends forgiveness to us.
How can we not do the same for others?
We would be no better than the wicked servant Jesus describes in
The man was forgiven much more than he could repay,
but refused to offer that same forgiveness to his brother, who owed him little.
Sisters, I do not in any way want to trivialize the hurt we encounter along life’s journey.
I want you to know God doesn’t either.
In fact, Psalm 56:8 lets us know how important our pain is to Him.
He keeps track of our sorrow,
He collects our tears in a bottle and records them in a book.
What a loving God!
There are some events and people that may seem beyond forgiveness,
yet forgiveness isn’t just for them, it’s also (often to a great degree) for us.
I can tell you what un-forgiveness is like.
It’s a prison of your own making.
Work toward forgiveness daily, being mindful of how you have been forgiven,
and renew your commitment to forgive even if it hurts – actually as often as it hurts.
We’re in this together!
Forgiveness is still working in and through me seventy times seven.
What about you?
Embracing God’s fullness in our lives is rooted in scripture and memorizing His word is vital to our continued growth and depth with Jesus. Tap and hold from your mobile device to download this week’s verse and make it your phone’s lockscreen!