|Just an illustration|
“Forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us… If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins” (Matthew 6:12, 14-15, NLT).
The next line of the Lord’s Prayer (if you follow my posts) makes an important request but adds a significant condition. Sin includes both active and passive resistance to God. Instead of submitting to him, we turn away, disobey, and live the way we want. Because we are sinners, cut off from God, we are helpless and hopeless – unless he forgives us. Even as believers, we sin each day, so we must come to him for forgiveness, cleansing, and strength to go on. In prayer we humbly ask God to forgive our sins. But then Jesus’ prayer adds a condition, “Forgive us… as we have forgiven.” Jesus meant our forgiveness of others should reveal our understanding of God’s forgiveness of us. When believers understand the greatness of the forgiveness they have received, they willingly extend such forgiveness to others.
Jesus gave this startling warning: If we refuse to forgive others, God will also refuse to forgive us. This does not refer to salvation, because salvation is not dependant on anything people can do. But living in relationship with God requires constant repentance of the sins that plague us. Because believers must come to God constantly for confession and forgiveness, refusing to forgive others reveals a lack of appreciation for the mercy received from God. All people are on common ground as sinners in need of God’s forgiveness. If we are unwilling to forgive others, we are denying and rejecting God’s forgiveness of us. “Forgive us our sins [O Lord], as we have forgiven those who sin against us.” Forgiven by God. Therefore, forgive others.
Think about this: Be careful what you pray for! When we so easily repeat the Lord’s Prayer, we pray, “Forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us,” do we really want God to hold us that accountable? May we be quick to forgive, extending grace to others in the same way God has extended grace to us. By the way, if there is someone you’ve been having a hard time forgiving, picture or imagine that person beside you at the foot of Jesus’ cross – both of you needing forgiveness. Then focus in prayer on your own need for the Lord’s forgiveness – which is already yours because of the Cross. And go, if possible, by all mean, meet the person – forgive and ask for forgiveness.
THINK BIG. START SMALL. GO DEEP.
Reference: Life Application Study Bible Devotional: Daily Wisdom from the Life of Jesus (Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 2011).