Forgiveness…who doesn’t want it? How about feeling forgiven? How long does that take? Well, we are already forgiven in Christ!
30 A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy [and a whole lot of other things, like unforgiveness] rots the bones.
Jesus gave us specific instructions that when we pray, we are to include forgiveness. In fact, He said that if we don’t forgive, then we will not be forgiven (Matthew 6:14-15). What’s that about? Let’s begin with the Model Prayer and Jesus’ instructions:
“And forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors.” Matthew 6:12
Let’s use our model for Scripture examination:
Literal- Jesus is teaching His disciples how to pray. This is not a mantra, but an example that includes several key components, one of which is forgiveness. The timing of this teaching is during His earthly ministry, so the cross was yet to come (it may even give extra weight to the phrase, “Thy kingdom come…”). The key that makes this prayer work is in verse 8, “Do not be like them (babbling pagans), for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him [implying that He will provide what we need, asked-for or not). We are simply agreeing with God for the things we want and the things we need.
Moral- Why forgive? Does the Father need for us to forgive? No. WE need us to forgive. Forgiveness releases negative emotions of anger, rage, bitterness, and malice, all of which will kill us. Jesus went first. We find Him early in His ministry forgiving sins (Mark 2:5). He also knew what He was going to do on the cross (although, no one else did, especially Satan and his horde), which was to forgive the world! This teaching was a foretaste of the forgiveness to come. It’s good for us to confess our sins. Confession is cathartic. It is not necessary for God, but it is for us. Our peace is wrapped up in forgiveness. Want to feel the forgiveness of God? Then forgive everyone everything. It empties our arms and allows us to receive His love and mercy, His grace and His peace. How long does it take? About as long as a good breath.
Spiritual- The purpose of forgiveness is to put everyone back on the same plane again. Through forgiveness, Jesus raises us back up to “accepted-son” status (in our unforgiveness, we were like the older brother in the Prodigal Son story). We can now enjoy the Presence of the Father at His throne, the Presence of the Spirit of Jesus in our lives, and the presence of our fellow Christians. What happens when we don’t forgive is that we take on a type of entitlement. It’s “you owe me” or “I deserve an apology or recompense.” Neither case is true. All that we have is from the Father’s hand. Any offense is against Him, not us. The neat part is that no matter the offense, it is already forgiven through the blood of Jesus Christ!
Jesus prayed, “Father, forgive them.”
The Father answered, “Done.”
Luke 23:34, John 19:30
Let’s begin our day with a clean slate by praying, “Father, I forgive my offenders; thank You for forgiving me.”
Abba, thank You for Your forgiveness. May each day bring me greater insight into Your love and what You did on the cross. I’m beginning to think that it is much greater than I ever expected! May I reflect Your love to everyone around me through forgiveness. Amen.
A word of thanks to Scott at Mammoth Baptist Church for his devotional yesterday. It was inspiring.