Psalm 143:8

Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.
Psalm 143:8

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Forgiveness

 Matthew 6:9-15 (NIV)
This, then, is how you should pray:
“‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.”
For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.



The word “forgive” is defined as this:  to stop feeling anger toward someone who has done something wrong; to stop blaming; to stop requiring payment of money that is owed (cancel a debt).    It’s not a feeling, it’s an action we choose to do or not.  Sometimes it’s easy to forgive, especially when it is for someone we love or hold in high esteem.  Sometimes, it’s not so easy and we find that we would rather hold onto the anger or resentment that we feel as a result of something someone has done to us or someone we love. 

In the verses above, we read the Lord’s Prayer which includes a petition for forgiveness.  We ask the Lord to forgive us…as we have also forgiven others.  Have you stopped to think about that phrase before?  For me, it typically slides off my tongue without a whole lot of thought, other than how nice it is that God forgives me!  But if you really look at the words, and the order they suggest…God forgives us…as we forgive others.  As…which really means, we MUST be forgiving, if we want to be forgiven.  Not sure that’s really right?  Take a look at the last two verses.  “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.”  Jesus is telling us that we have to be willing to take the action to forgive, if we also want to be forgiven. 

Perhaps we should think about this from Jesus’ perspective.  He laid everything on the cross for us; for our forgiveness.  He forgave our sins before we even committed them.  In advance!  He takes those sins and throws them away from us - “as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”  (Psalm 103:12)  He doesn’t hold on to our sins, the anger he might feel regarding our sins…he doesn’t let them fester into bitterness or ugly hatred toward us.  When we ask his forgiveness, he gives it with grace and mercy.  Freely.

If that’s the case, why is it so hard for us to forgive others when our own sins have been so graciously forgiven?  Why is it easier to stay angry, to hold onto grudges, to repeatedly make someone “pay for” the sin they committed against us?  And, is it really easier?  What price do WE pay for our unforgiveness?  When we harbor anger or resentment, it can cause us to become bitter, cranky, whiny, depressed or hard-hearted.  It can turn us into a person others don’t really want to be around.  It can use up our energy by focusing on the past instead of what our future could be, ahead of us.  Many times, we actually end up hurting ourselves more than the person we resent!  And not only that, but it blocks forgiveness of our own sins from God!  Matthew 6:15 says, “But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” 

To forgive then, requires obedience.  Mark 11:25 says, When you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”  We must choose to obey, to let go of our resentment and anger and to forgive.  So pray.  Pray for the strength and grace to forgive others.  Let go of the resentment and anger.  Cancel a debt.  Choose to be more like Jesus…and forgive.


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