Do not withhold your mercy from me, LORD;
may your love and faithfulness always protect me.
(Psalm 40:11 NIV)
As I walk through the Lord’s prayer, I must be ever mindful that I am addressing “Our Father.” To ask our Father to forgive my shortcomings, mistakes, failures and wrongdoings can feel shameful, but once I confess, He always comforts, forgives, corrects and sets me on the straight path again.
This request seems to have a qualifier that often throws me for a loop, because if God forgives in the same manner I forgive, I am in trouble.
Other versions say, “forgive us our sins, for we have forgiven those who sinned against us.” Still difficult to get a grip on this concept, as I think it should say: “Since I [God] have forgiven you, go and do likewise.” I am sure there have been many a theological debate as to what this sentence means, but at face value it is enough that God forgives me and does not make me pay for my sin.
Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! Jesus paid the debt. God isn’t in heaven saying, “She’s going to pay for this.” He rips up my ledger and I am free. This stunning truth is the only real motivation for me to do likewise for others.
Another definition of forgive says “to give up resentment of” and this is where I need to pray for God to enable me to release those who have hurt or offended me. This is where the previous request for daily bread takes on deeper spiritual meaning. Unless God had provided Jesus as the Bread of Sacrifice for our sin, no one could truly forgive another. We’d all be meting out our own vengeance.
God is merciful and just. I prefer His mercy in my own life, so why do I so often demand justice? When it comes to those who offend me, I want them to pay for the harm done, rather than have me forgive them.
What struggles do you face with forgiveness?