Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. - Matthew 6:12 (ESV)
A silent room is suddenly filled with a Bump! Crash! Bang! Followed by a young lady's scared voice calling out “Who's There?” After what seems like eons of time a faint sound of a meow echoes back. “”Is that you, Misty?” the young lady's voice asks to which comes a loud meow and a cat brushing up against her leg.
“Oh, Misty, you need to stop scaring me like that. You know I can't see.” the young lady said as she bent over and picked up her cat. Soon the cat was snuggling up to her neck and purring loudly. “Oh, alright,” the young lady said as she petted the cat, “I forgive you.. Now lets see if we can figure out what kind of mess you made.”
Grabbing her walking cane the young lady started making her way around the room swinging her cane back in forth trying to find what ever her cat had knocked over. As she did so the door bell rang and since her parents at work and she was expecting her Sunday school teacher to come over she decided she had better answer the door.
As she headed to the door she suddenly found what her cat had knocked over and the room was filled with another bump, crash, bang as she tripped and fell to the floor. Hearing the commotion, Daisy Smith – who happened to be her Sunday School teacher – burst through the door to see if her student was okay and if she needed medical attention.
“I'll be alright.” the young lady told Daisy, “But I could use a hand getting up.” What happened? Daisy asked. “Oh, that cat made a mess on the floor and as I was coming to answer the door I found the mess the cat made.” Looking around at the mess Daisy said she would help clean it up and soon the room was back in order.
“Thank you, Daisy” the young lady said, “By the way,” she continued, “I never full introduced myself the other day. I'm April Zaspella” “I already know that.” Daisy giggled, “Even though we never got to talk the other day, you did have a name sticker on and you wrote your name on the poem you left behind in the classroom.”
“Is that why you're here?” April asked “Yes.” Daisy told her, “I've read it through and I must say, the poem is well written but the content seemed disturbing.” “I love poetry.” April told Daisy “But ever since the accident that left me blind, I've been struggling with forgiveness and I guess it just showed up in my poem.”
“That's why I came to talk to you today.” Daisy said as she put her arm around her. “I've already had to help Louie with the same problem after his parents were killed on the mission field and I think I may be able to help you.” “I hope so.” April responded, “It's awful not knowing if I can forgive or if God can forgive me.” “Let's start by praying.” Daisy said and than they prayed and talked the afternoon away.
How many of us have ever needed forgiveness? How many of us have ever struggled with forgiving someone else? Unless we are perfect 100%, and the Bible reminds us that we are not, we are going to need forgiveness, from those around us and from God but there's more. As part of the model prayer Jesus included these words “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” - Matthew 6:12 (ESV)
Seeking forgiveness is something we are prompted to do in both the Old and New testament.
- Isaiah 55:7 - Let the wicked one abandon his way, and the sinful one his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, so He may have compassion on him, and to our God, for He will freely forgive. (HCSB)
- 1 John 1:9 - If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (HCSB)
While forgiveness is something we all need and God is willing to give, we also need to forgive. In teaching us the model prayer, Jesus has us praying to be forgiven in the same way we forgive others. St. Augustine called this request "the terrible petition" because he realized that if we pray "Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors" with an unforgiving heart, we are actually asking God not to forgive us." When you get to this part in the Model prayer you are in effect saying, "Lord if there is someone whom I haven’t forgiven then don’t forgive me." Charles Spurgeon stated, "Unless you have forgiven others, you read your own death-warrant when you repeat the Lord's Prayer."
Jesus summed up this idea of forgiving to be forgiven in the following story from Matthew 18:21-35 - Then Peter came up and said to him, "Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?" Jesus said to him, "I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven. "Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, 'Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.' And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii, and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, 'Pay what you owe.' So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, 'Have patience with me, and I will pay you.' He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt. When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place. Then his master summoned him and said to him, 'You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?' And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart." (ESV)
While Jesus was hanging on the cross, after being unjustly tried convicted and flogged He said "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." Luke 23:34a (ESV) How many of us could do such a thing? How many of us can follow Jesus example as well as His teaching. How many of us are truly ready to pray “Forgive me as I forgive.”?
Here's Something To Ponder
- Are there those whom you need to forgive so God can forgive you?
- Of what do you need to be forgiven?