Today’s devotion builds on the thoughts from Sunday’s Sermon – Week 5 of the Lord’s Prayer Series “Forgive as We Forgive” (LISTEN HERE).
“Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.”
Is there anything about this petition that causes you to pause when you speak it in the Lord’s Prayer?
To be honest, I wish the petition simply was, “Forgive us our sins.”
What causes me to pause is the second phrase, “…as we forgive those who sin against us.”
Has this ever given you pause?
Most often I think of forgiveness that I received is attached fully to the completed work of Jesus on the cross and unattached to any actions or activities I would do or not do.
I love passages like Ephesians 1:7-8: In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.
I even am happy to receive the encouragement to pass on that forgiveness such is found in Ephesians 4:32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
But to pray, “Forgive us our sins AS we forgive those who sin against us” challenges me to consider, “How well am I passing on the forgiveness which God has given to me?”
If God would match his forgiveness of my sins with how well I forgive those who sin against me?
At times, I would not expect much forgiveness from the Lord.
I need forgiveness for not forgiving as I have been forgiven. How about you?
Jesus told the parable of the “Unmerciful Servant” (Matthew 18) to illustrate and encourage our forgiveness of others. Peter asked, “How many times should I forgive my brother?” He wanted the “check box” and then have permission to NOT forgive.
Here is Jesus’ parable (Matthew 18)
21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?”
22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.
23 “Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24 As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him. 25 Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.
26 “The servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ 27 The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.
28 “But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded.
29 “His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.’
30 “But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. 31 When the other servants saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed and went and told their master everything that had happened.
32 “Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. 33 Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ 34 In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.
35 “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart.”
Jesus’ point in Matthew 18?
When I realize how much I have been forgiven by the Lord, the debts others incur are small by comparison. Jesus wanted the man who had been forgiven 10,000 talents, an amount he would never be able to repay, to pass on a small percentage of that forgiveness to the one who owed him 100 denarii.
When I struggle to forgive, Jesus invites me to first look in the mirror and realize my sin, and then shift to the cross and realize how much I have been forgiven. When this sinks in, it gives me strength to forgive as I have been forgiven. And as I realize more and more how much I have been forgiven, forgiveness to others begins to flow more freely.
As forgiveness flows, I enjoy praying: “Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.”
Apply: Take time to reflect or write down the sins of the past week. As you reflect on the “cost of that debt” take a red marker and draw a cross and write the word “Forgiven” on top of them.
Prayer: Lord, help me to forgive as freely and generously as you have forgiven me. AMEN.