By Pastor Rick Wood
Pastor, Pursuit Christian Fellowship, ThePursuitDallas.com
Did I get your attention? Hopefully I did. In our church we’ve been in a series on prayer in an effort to make people aware of the power and necessity of a generous prayer life. Most people desire a prayerful relationship with God, but many of us don’t know what to say or how to even begin. This is not unusual…the disciples had the same challenge during the days of Jesus. Obviously, the disciples were deeply moved when they observed Jesus praying…so deeply moved that one of them asked Jesus to teach him to pray in Luke chapter 11.
In Matthew chapter 6 Jesus gives instructions concerning prayer and He includes a model prayer, commonly known as the Lord’s Prayer in verses 9 through 13. But there’s one portion of the prayer that seems to be emphasized more than the others. And as many times as I’ve read these verses I’ve never noticed it until recently. At the end of the prayer, Jesus actually takes time to go back and re-emphasize a specific part of the model prayer. Here’s Jesus’s re-emphasis found in verses 14 and 15, “ For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Jesus identifies verse 12 as a critical part of His model prayer and re-emphasizes it in verses 14 and 15. Verse 12 contains the ‘F’ word…forgiveness.
Verse 12, “And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.”, may very well be the most critical part of the prayer. The whole process of forgiveness is found throughout scripture, and is one of the foundational aspects for our relationship with God. The simple fact that God forgave us and sent His Son to die for us is the reason why we can have a relationship with Him today. All because God forgave us.
So, the question is ‘Why is forgiveness so important?’ Further understanding of scripture reveals the Parable of the Unmerciful Servant in Matthew 18. In summary, Jesus tells of a king who forgives his servant of an amount that the servant could never possibly repay, but that same servant refused to forgive someone who owed him a very small debt. When the king heard of the actions of the servant, he was handed over to be tortured. But the most important aspect of the story is found in verse 35 where Jesus states “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”
You and I are in the same predicament as the servant…we owe a large debt that we cannot repay, it’s the debt of sin. But God forgave us of a debt that we could not pay and He cannot compute how we could be unforgiving to those who sin against us…our actions of unforgiveness are unconceivable to Him. Thus the ‘F’ word should be a more common part of our daily conversations and actions.
So, here’s some million dollar questions…whom have you not forgiven? What anger are you harboring in your heart against someone? What are you doing about it? Have you reconciled with the person who has hurt you? What’s your next step to restore the relationship? And if you’re thinking that this is not that important, go back and read verse 35 of Matthew 18 and think again. Maybe you’re on the fence about something and not completely sure if you’ve really forgiven someone in your heart. If so, I have a quick one-question test for you to take that’ll help provide an answer for you. Are you ready for the question? The question is “Do you still find yourself talking about what this person did to you?” If you do, maybe you haven’t quite forgiven the way that God desires you to. May God bless you in your efforts to be like Him in the area of forgiveness.
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