“In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.”
Sometimes we’re acutely aware of our sin and unworthiness. At other times our degraded spiritual condition is merely an abstract theological truth we mentally accept. Most often those times of spiritual clarity regarding the depth of our need come following some failure on our part, we’ve hurt someone we love, we’ve gotten caught doing something and the consequences of the exposure are significant, maybe we haven’t gotten caught but still we feel dirty. I could go on listing maybes but I think you get the picture.
The thing is that regardless as to whether or not we’re aware that we’ve done something sinful we’re still filled with sin. The prophet Jeremiah said it most clearly, “the heart of a man is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked…” What the prophet is so poetically saying is that our sinfulness is so deep and pervasive we can’t even comprehend its extent. That’s why the four word petition, “forgive us our debts,” is so important to us. We need forgiveness more than we can even know.
And the message of scripture is that if we come to Jesus honestly, sincerely confessing our sin and asking for forgiveness he will faithfully forgive and cleanse us. It doesn’t matter what we’ve done, nothing is too big, God’s grace is infinite, he’s able to cover and cleanse our sin if we’ll repent.
But there’s a condition we must meet if our repentance is to be genuine and we’re to remain covered by God’s blanket of forgiveness. The Lord’s Prayer reveals what that condition is with the words immediately following our request for forgiveness, “forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.”
The point of grace and forgiveness as it’s applied in our lives is that we stop being vessels of hate and destruction and begin being vessels of God’s love in this world. We cannot be that if we’re unwilling to forgive as we’ve been forgiven.
God begins the cleansing of the sin from our lives by first clearing away the rubble and debris of sin in our hearts that gets in the way of our become forgiving like he is, and then he prompts us to begin letting go of our hurt and anger as we give forgiveness to those that have wronged us.
We may be tempted to hold onto that hurt and resentment, after all they deserve our anger. Well,,friend, forgiveness wouldn’t be needed if the wounds weren’t real. But God’s calling us to put off sin and to put on love. Love calls us to forgive, and we can’t be forgiven for our sin if we’re not willing to let go of it and become forgiving.
O God help me be forgiving. The hurts are real, and sometimes deep. I’m in awe when I consider the expansiveness of your love and forgiveness for me. Help me to follow your example and to love and forgive like you.