A Closer Look At The Lord's Prayer - Day 4
I hope you have enjoyed the first 3 parts to this 5 day series that takes a closer look into the Lord’s Prayer. Today is Day 4 and we will be looking into Matthew 6:12. “And forgive us our debts, as we also forgive our debtors.”
Some translations say “...forgive us our transgressions…” Debts, transgressions… basically it’s what we “owe” the Lord or have done “against or in offense” to the Lord and in turn what someone owes us or has done against us. I am not sure why there are different words used in different translations but the point is clear in either translation. FORGIVE. We are asking for forgiveness.
Every breath we take in this life is sinful. It is what it is, we are born into it. Some choices however are conscious, rebellious actions taken that go directly against what the Lord has commanded us. We simply do what WE want to do. Each and every one of us are guilty at some point, to some degree. Therefore, we all need forgiveness. Jesus was sure to include this request for forgiveness in this prayer model and it should not be glossed over or taken lightly. With that in mind, we should always remember that he also said God gives us new mercy every day. (Lamentations 3:22-23) We rest our hope in that, and are grateful for God’s continued forgiveness, grace and mercy!
Let’s look at the second half of that scripture. Jesus is clear to point out “..as we forgive…”. Not IF we forgive, or WHEN we forgive but AS we forgive. This is a continual, repeated action. Matthew 6:14-15, Matthew 18:21-35, Colossians 3:13 are just a few of the scriptures that make it clear that we will be forgiven with the same measure in which we forgive others. Therefore, we may want to ask ourselves:
Am I walking around with deep rooted grudges, constantly living in a state of offendedness, clinging to irritation and aggravation with others like a disease.
Based on my level of forgiveness with others, how much is God really forgiving me today?
WARNING: Cringe moment ahead... Many years ago, I could have been quoted a number of times saying, “I just don’t have time or tolerance for stupid.” I know, I shudder to think about how quick I was to judge, call people out for what made me upset with THEIR behavior and even cut people out of my life for repeated offense. I thought I was being strong and standing up for myself. I thought that was somehow a good thing. But all along, it was MY offended attitude that was looking for what was wrong with others and then finding a way to take it personally.
When I came to truly know the Lord, I realized how tolerant he is. How patient he is. How loving he is. And then it hit me: I would never think or say that I had no time or tolerance for my own children, and yet here we are: ALL GOD’S CHILDREN! As the dots began to connect, I came to accept the truth that I would ONLY be forgiven as much as I forgive others. With those realizations, everything changed!
Now, if something happens and my initial gut reaction is to become offended, I instantly say in my mind, “Jesus loves (name of the person) so much, and I will too!” Then in an effort to immediately remove the plank out of my own eye before I point out the speck in theirs (Matthew 7:3), I question, “What sin is God revealing in me that is making me feel this way? What lie am I believing?” And it never fails that I am immediately convicted in my heart of what inside of me is having such an offended response. Self esteem? Ego? Pride? Selfishness? Maybe a nerve was hit from a past unforgiven experience? I immediately lift it up to God in prayer, asking Him to forgive my sinful thoughts. I ask Him to help me forgive the other person as well. And then I say the words, “I forgive you, (name of the person).
I cannot tell you how amazing this process is! We expect God to forgive us quickly and completely. But Jesus makes it abundantly clear in this passage of scripture, that we can ask for forgiveness, but we must live out that forgiveness to others as well. God says he will send our sins away as far as the east is from the west. (Psalm 103:12) We shouldn’t find ourselves then, tucking away any piece of unforgiveness into our secret memory arsenal, just to use at a later date. Give it to God and let it go completely. God can see deep into our heart. We cannot hide it from him. If you surrender it to Him and ask Him to help you forgive completely, he will rescue you from yourself and the pain someone else may have caused.
I have found that adding that person to my daily prayer list helps with forgiveness. We don’t just want to pray to forgive however. We pray for them to thrive in life. We pray for good things to happen to them. We pray for their health and their family. Even if you have a hard time meaning it at first, say the words. You will know you have truly forgiven when you pray for them and mean it, or when you hear something great has happened to them and you are genuinely happy. Based on the level of offense, victimization or woundedness, this may take longer for some than others.
Let me just attest from personal experience that I have had to go back into my past pretty far and go through this exact process. One by one, I have been able to feel a level of forgiveness that I never thought was possible. I was victimized in my past by more than one person, but I am not a victim. I am a child of God and so are they. What made them do bad things and what God has chosen to do in their life is not my business. What is my business is the body of Christ that I am a part of, and I, like Jesus desire ALL to be saved.
If you knew my personal story, as some of you may, you know how strong of a statement this is. But once you walk through, not just recite, this part of the Lord’s prayer, the impossible becomes possible. In fact, ALL things are possible with God! (Matthew 19:26) I am living proof of exactly that. I pray that you take the steps, even when they seem too painful. I pray that you trust what God has waiting for you. The relief of burden is indescribable. The joy in life that may have seemed limited is unbelievable and unlimited. And all along, as you forgive others and become abundantly blessed in your day to day life, you are being forgiven and securing your eternal salvation!