Tuesday, January 31, 2017

The Lord’s Prayer Revelation About Forgiveness

Forgive us our offenses as we ourselves forgive those who offend us.”
— Fifth Petition of the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:12)
The words of the Bible are basic, and, apart from interpreting them accurately, which pertains to an incredibly sophisticated world of scholarship, these words are simple for the reader.
Many times, as devotees of the Bible, we read the same words over and over, and then “boom!” God reveals something special. This happened recently with the above decisive piece of the Matthean Lord’s Prayer.
The words are simple.
Pray the Lord,
forgive us our offenses,
forgive me mine,
as we — no, I — forgive
those who offend us (me).
Suddenly the Lord made me realise what His Word was saying — what it had always said. He says nothing about praying for others to forgive us nor about others and what they’re due if they don’t seek forgiveness. This prayer of forgiveness is not really about others at all.
It’s about God and I, and my vertical relationship with Him, and not about my horizontal relationship with others. It’s about what I can do. It’s nothing about waiting for others to do their bit. It’s nothing about others reaching toward us in reconciliation, but it is everything about us reaching toward them, knowing we’re obeying God no matter how they respond. It’s an acknowledgement that we’re empowered to do what we can do to arrange the restoration of the relationship. Doing the forgiveness and knowing we’ve done all we can do is enough to experience the Spirit’s prevailing peace.
The words are simple.
If we forgive the offenses of others, God will forgive our offenses against Him.
Read that. Our offenses — done against anyone — are offenses done directly against Him.
Sins done against “the least of these” might as well be done against Jesus, Himself. Recall Jesus speaking about the sheep and goats in Matthew 25:31-46. The sheep on the right are those who did what they could to show mercy and the goats on the left withheld mercy.
The forgiveness we withhold from another person is a mercy we do not show the Lord. For the Lord is in them, by His Spirit if they believe, and if not, they’re still made in His image. But the forgiveness we show is a mercy we freely share with the Lord, recognising they, the offending person/s, were known by God before they were conceived, and are dearly loved as much as we are.
And, besides, we would want to show ourselves as merciful, as if embodying the Spirit’s power, and not hard of heart, which reveals us otherwise as missing something vital of God’s transforming grace.
What can we deduce?
We should know how God feels about the offenses we do. We only have to feel what we feel when others offend us. Sure, God isn’t human, but those we offend are, and God is their vindicator. As much as He is ours.
Forgiveness is an interpersonal transaction between us and God so, in God’s power, we may enjoy personal transformation sufficient to hope for interpersonal reconciliation.
Forgiveness is a matter of faith in the Lord’s direction of obedience. It’s best, and only to be, kept that simple.
Reading the Bible, then, what choice do we have? We must forgive. What may not be easy is certainly possible, and when God’s power is in it, it becomes probable.
We ought to pray, as we forgive others their offenses, that God would change our hearts as much as His heart is changed toward us.

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