Author: Mike Jorgensen
Scripture: Matthew 6:9-13
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.
Some of you may be scratching your heads as to why I’ve selected the passage commonly referred to as “The Lord’s Prayer” for an article on forgiveness. If so, your scratching is justified because it’s not a common association. However, there is an important line that we often recite without really considering it’s meaning. In the center of the prayer, we ask God to forgive our sins as we have forgiven others. To put it another way, our plea to God sounds like this, “God, be as forgiving to me as I have been to other people”. Many times when I realize what I’m saying, I immediately think, “oops”. Do you forgive others so readily and consistently that you’re comfortable making this request to God?
Forgiveness is hard. Forgiveness is not magically dissolving conflict; it can be a painful (but liberating) resolution to problems. Imagine a landlord and a tenet in a feud. If the tenet fails to pay rent one month then the landlord has been wronged. The landlord has two options: the first is to claim justice and evict or penalize the tenet, the second is to not claim the justice they are owed thus being the recipient of injustice.
The cost of forgiveness (for the forgiving party) is two injustices. The first injustice occurs when we have been wronged, the second injustice occurs when we forego our right to justice. This sounds painful (and it is) but it is exactly the pain that God has gone to for us. When we sin, it is against God. As a perfect, holy, and just God, he has the right to condemn us. Yet God does not do this, instead He was the recipient of further injustice on the cross.
It took the death of the Son of God in order to forgive our sins. What does it cost you to forgive others? Scripture reminds us that we are recipients of immeasurable grace and forgiveness and that is to be the standard for personal forgiveness. May you enjoy the great forgiveness that God has granted and live graciously towards others that we may pray, “forgive us our debts as we have forgiven others”.