When Jesus modeled prayer for His disciples, He included a request for forgiveness that's stunning in it's implications. "And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors." (Matt. 6:12 nasb)
There are two words in that sentence that are game-changers in the realm of forgiveness. "As" literally means "in the same way." "Have" indicates an action already completed.
Jesus' words (Leanna Paraphrase) might also be written:
"Father, forgive me in exactly the same way
I've already forgiven the ones who've hurt me the most."
It's a severe kind of forgiveness, and it isn't always the kind we want. The problem we face is that this "forgive me as I've already done" is the forgiveness Jesus offers.
It must have been shocking to His disciples because, as soon as the Amen sounded, Jesus explained further. If you forgive, God will forgive you. If you don't forgive, He won't.
It's that simple. It's that hard.
Do we want forgiveness? We can have it. Forgive first.
Yeah. It sounds a little harsh, but it's not.
Bitterness, unresolved anger, and unforgiveness have to go. They won't be welcomed into heaven, and we might as well stop clinging to them now.
Those emotions bind us to the thing that needs forgiving with tenacious ties that are difficult to escape. If we want to be forgiven, the first step is to cut our ties to unforgiven hurts and let them go.
It'll bring great freedom, and God knows it. That's at least part of why He's made our own forgiveness conditional.
Forgiving doesn't mean we allow abuse to continue. It means we stop holding to the hurt and allowing it to control us.
Forgiveness doesn't mean we wait for our offender to repent and ask for forgiveness. It means we do our part, regardless of what the other party does or doesn't do.
Forgiveness doesn't mean we only forgive "lesser" offenses. "But you don't know what they did..." will not work with Jesus. He's the One who carried the sin of the world while He was dangling between heaven and earth, nails in His hands and feet, hammered to a couple of wooden posts. Do we really want to try to tell Him how much worse our hurt is than His?
Do we want forgiveness? Forgive first. Why? It's pretty simple, really. Forgiving first is the only way to gain God's forgiveness.
Why should we forgive when we don't want to forgive? Forgiveness is the first step to freedom from even the deepest hurt.
What about when it's hard? We don't have to do it alone. God will help. The Holy Spirit will "lead us into all truth" (John 16:13) If we need help getting to forgiveness, we can follow the lead of the Holy Spirit. He'll take us straight to the truth: If we want forgiveness, we have to forgive.
To what hurts are we clinging? Today, let's release them, and ourselves, by taking the first steps to forgiveness. "I forgive..." Say it. Do it.
"Father forgive them for they don't know what they are doing..." Luke 23:24 niv
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In case you missed it, here's the link for yesterdays post: Praying for What We Should Instead of What We Want
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