Hovering over the Lord’s prayer in Matthew 6 this morning.
Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day 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 evil.
For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
(Matthew 6:9-15 ESV)
What strikes me, in particular, is the connection between forgiving others and prayer. I’m pretty sure it’s because I’ve also been in Mark 11 this week and there observed the same thing.
“Therefore, I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”
(Mark 11:24-25 ESV)
The Lord emphasized forgiving others as part of prayer when He preached the Sermon on the Mount, something He did towards the beginning of His ministry. The Lord also connected forgiving with asking just days before He goes to the cross in Mark 11, the end of His ministry. So, from beginning to end, Jesus emphasized the need to forgive.
Been wrestling with forgiveness. Not my own ability to forgive so much (though again this morning I’m prompted by the Spirit that there are somethings I really need to totally let go of), but I’ve walked with people over the past couple of years that have been transgressed against big time. No minimizing the offence against them as really offensive. And yet, Jesus says that if we really want to know our own debts forgiven, we need to forgive our debtors.
Maybe it’s because, as we come to grips with other’s sins, it becomes a mirror into our own ability to sin, our own depravity apart from divine intervention. To forgive others is to know the depths to which our heavenly Father has truly forgiven us.
Or, maybe it’s because the only way we are going to be able to forgive others the worst of what they can do, is when we are drawing on the supernatural forgiving power of Christ in us through His Spirit. That we will need an encounter of the divine kind if we’re going to be able to forgive others their trespasses.
Or maybe it’s because we’re tempted to limit the love of God and the power of the cross. God can love the sinner but only if the sin is within “tolerable limits” — limits of our own making. Or the blood is sufficient to cleanse from all sin only if it’s not too heinous a sin. After all, we don’t want to let anyone off the hook too easily. Spoiler alert: for those truly repentant and forgiven, the hook was never too easy — it nailed the Son of God to a wooden cross.
Not going to do the topic of forgiveness justice in a short post. Actually, the more I encounter sin up close and personal, and the collateral damage and havoc it wreaks, the more complicated forgiveness is for me. But equally true, the more amazing grace is from Him.
No simple answers. No quick solutions. No three, easy steps to forgiving what we might regard as unforgivable. Yet, no denying that, from beginning to end, Jesus taught we need to forgive.
Only by Your grace. Always for Your glory.