I want to share with you some things God has been teaching me about forgiveness. This is such a powerful truth that if you can grab hold of it, and learn to forgive those who have hurt you (and that might include you), I believe that you will begin to find real freedom in areas of your life that you have tried, and tried to be free in. It is my prayer that this truth will help you find that freedom!
Let’s begin with The Lord’s Prayer. This is the the pattern Jesus gives us for how to pray in Matthew 6:
9 Pray like this: Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy. 10 May your Kingdom come soon. May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. 11 Give us today the food we need, 12 and forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us. 13 And don’t let us yield to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one. Matthew 6:9-13 NLT
The Lord’s Prayer is a pattern for how we are to pray every day. The foundation of our prayer, the ‘main thing’ is beautifully exalting God, declaring his holiness and praying for his will to be done in and through us on this earth. This should take up the majority of our prayers!
Next we simply ask that our needs for this day be met. After having spent the first part of your prayer exalting God, telling him how good and wonderful he is, it should be pretty easy to say, “Thanks for providing all that I need for this day!”
Then comes this little bit about forgiveness: daily asking forgiveness of our sins against God, as well as the forgiveness of the sins others committed against us.
The pattern Jesus gives us closes with our asking God to help us not yield to temptation and protect us from the schemes of the evil one.
Jesus makes a strong statement about forgiveness in the next two verses:
14 “If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. 15 But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins. Matthew 6:14-15 NLT
It is worth paying attention to why forgiveness is brought up in this way. Does walking in forgiveness…
- affect our mandate, and ability to worship God?
- empower us to bring his kingdom to earth?
- have a role to play in our ability to receive from God all that we need for life and godliness?
- keep us free from the temptations to be prideful, greedy, lustful, envious, and bitter?
I believe the answer is absolutely yes.
Jesus took upon himself the punishment for every sin that you and I have, and will commit. This means that every offense that you or I have committed, and every hurt, betrayal, and abuse that someone has done to you, was actually an offense against Jesus.
What is sin? Sin is the violation of something’s purpose. When we sin, we are violating the way God intended life, and people, to live and function. Sin hurts people, and cuts them off from the life and relationship found in God. This broken relationship was such a problem for God, that Jesus came, paid the price in his own body, and set us free from the power of sin and death.
When someone hurts you, in any possible way, it is an offense against Jesus. Jesus already took that sin, paid for it, and it is his alone to judge. When we do not forgive others, we take on the responsibility of judge for that person’s actions. This office of judge is not ours to hold! When we try to stand in this position through unforgiveness, we cannot be forgiven, because we are declaring that we have the right and authority to judge, and condemn this person for their sin. We must then also judge and condemn, or pay for, our own offenses against others, and God.
That sin against you is forgiven by Jesus. It was ultimately done to him, in his body, on that cross. And he forgave. We forgive in faith, letting go of the responsibility to judge that person, or their actions. We entrust them to God, who not only forgave, but enables people to live transformed lives.
If you cannot forgive another who has hurt you, God cannot forgive you, because in Christ all sin was paid for, and all sin was forgiven. When you hold onto unforgiveness, you are saying that the price paid was not enough for this offense, for this sin against you. If that is the case, then it is not enough, either, for your offenses against God the Father.
Ask God to show you the people that you need to forgive. Let them go, entrust them to God. Trust God with your heart, and your life. He can make such beauty grow from the ashes! Don’t miss that opportunity!
I will write more on this next week! Love,