Monday, February 22, 2016


"For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins" (Matthew 6:14-15 NIV).

I was somewhat surprised to find this verse immediately following the Lord's Prayer in Matthew. It fits perfectly there but it also says to me that forgiveness is a highly important aspect of that prayer. The Lord's Prayer is Jesus' model for how to pray. It seems that Jesus realized how often humans need to practice forgiveness in their lives and thus included it in the most familiar prayer of all.

The Lord's Prayer speaks of forgiving our debts as we have forgiven our debtors but the reference is to far more than monetary debts against us. It speaks to the need to forgive wrongs against us. Even to wrongs perceived against us. Sometimes humans just get it wrong. We walk around with our feelings on our sleeves and allow even the most innocent brush with others to cut us to the bone. There are other times when people truly hurt us and we feel crushed. The key to healing is still forgiveness. The wound will remain raw and festering until we kneel before God and allow Him to help us forgive.

"Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you" (Ephesians 4:32 NIV).

Jesus brought healing to many through forgiveness. He forgave the paralytic in Matthew 9:2-8; the adulterous woman in John 8:3-11; the woman who spread expensive oil on Jesus' feet in Luke 7:47-50. But he also forgave Peter for denying he knew Jesus; the criminals on the cross in Luke 23:39-43 and those who crucified him in Luke 23:34.

No where in the Bible does it say that forgiving is an easy task. Our own forgiveness required the torture and crucifixion of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. But it is in that great sacrificial gift that we are shown what is required of us.

"This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart" (Matthew 18:35 NIV).

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