Thursday, March 31, 2011

Jesus on Forgiveness (Matt. 6.12, 14-15)

A devotional thought: How Important is Forgiveness to the Christian? I mean, sure we know it is important, but who needs to be forgiven, what makes that possible, and how should we forgive? Is it really as important as some people make it out to be? Can't we just stay angry? Is a grudge really that big a deal? And more importantly what difference does it make if I won't forgive? What is God going to do if don't? What will do I do? Does God, Does Jesus really think its that important? Well, lets ask Jesus what He has to say on it. He says in Matthew 6. You see, when Jesus is teaching about how to pray, He gives a model prayer. It is a prayer you and I could pray every day. It is the kind of prayer that should be reflected in many of the prayers that we pray. It is simple, humble, and profound. However, there is very interesting little line that Jesus slips into this model prayer. It goes like this, "And forgive us the things we owe like we also have forgiven the people who owe us." Jesus suggests that part of our model prayer needs to be the humble plea for forgiveness. Our sins are a huge debt that we can never repay, so we need in our prayers to beg God to remove it--this is not asking for the removal of sins once for all that comes with trusting in Christ but the restoration of the relationship that is affected by sins in our lives (even though they've been dealt with by Christ once and for all)--the point is that we are in such desperate need of forgiveness that Jesus puts it as a part of our model prayer. However, Jesus wants to explain how we being forgiven and even something of a motivation for God to forgive us, so He says that we should ask for God to forgive us in way similar to how we have forgiven the people who have offended us. This thought is so crucial and might throw us off so much that Jesus comes back to explain why He said what He said after He finishes giving us the model prayer. So we see that it is so important for us to have forgiveness that Jesus puts it in the model prayer, but also we are about to see not only that but also that our forgiveness of others is absolutely necessary--it's important too, and is even important for our own forgiveness. Thus, Jesus says in vv.14-15, "because if you forgive people their transgressions, your Father, the Heavenly One, will also forgive you. But if you don't forgive people, then your Father won't forgive you your transgressions." So why does He mention us being forgiven like we forgive? because apparently forgiveness is so important to God that He will not forgive us if we won't forgive other people. God is just so if we want a restored relationship with Him then we had better have our own relationships in order. I mean, God hates hypocrisy, so when we are begging for forgiveness that we need, but won't give people the forgiveness they need, why should God indulge such a double standard? Why should He encourage more unforgiveness, more grudges? He clearly hates those things, because they are serious enough to keep Him from restoring our own relationship with Him (this is not to say that we can lose our salvation, but it is to say that saved people forgive people and that our closeness to God will not be the same or flourishing if we are languishing in the sin of unforgiveness). If we want forgiveness we have to forgive others. We would be asking God for what we ourselves are giving out. We would be getting from God what would seem appropriate, but how awful would it be for a person to get forgiveness but not give any? God doesn't want that, and neither do we. We want to experience the joy of forgiveness so then we too should be seeking to give that joy! God does not give any exceptions either, it is either we forgive and get forgiven or we don't give it and don't get it. This is a challenge for all us, especially those of us who have suffered greatly at the hands of someone else. But this is important to God and thus should be important to us, but is also important to us because of how much we love and want to enjoy our relationship with God. Unforgiveness really just ends up destroying us. So it is super important. So then let us be humble enough not just to forgive other when they ask but also to ask for forgiveness. I love you all very much. Grace and Peace and Hope.

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