I admit it! Honestly, it happens too often! I am praying the Lord’s Prayer, and mentally stumbled. Did the microphone catch it? Did the congregation notice? My lips were reciting the ancient prayer and my mind wondering how to get folks out of the service before the next one.
The words that caused a hiccup in my cranial hemispheres: “…as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Do I really want God to forgive me EXACTLY the way I forgive others? Lord, have mercy! Please, God, NO!
I read recently (which means I do not remember the source):
These words are the hardest in the “Our Father” to live out. Our worship and love of God, if it does not involve forgiveness, comes to nothing. Forgiveness is the very thing Jesus does for us on the cross, and he hands this gift to us in the work of the Holy Spirit.
Forgiveness involves a readiness not to live in the past, but to be open to the future. This means trusting that we can have a future, even when hatred, violence and evil have destroyed human relationships with each other and their relationship with God.
In the book,”The Art of Forgiving” Lewis Smedes has insight as to what forgiveness is not:
- It is not forgetting the sin
- It is not pretending the sin did not occur
- It is not going back and accepting the abuse
- It is not saying it is okay
A definition for forgiveness could be — giving up my right to hurt you, for hurting me. It is impossible to live on this fallen planet without getting hurt, offended, misunderstood, lied to, and rejected. Learning how to respond properly is one of the basics of the Christian life.
The word “forgive” means to wipe the slate clean, to pardon, to cancel a debt. When we wrong someone, we seek his or her forgiveness in order for the relationship to be restored. It is important to remember that forgiveness is not granted because a person deserves to be forgiven. Instead, it is an act of love, mercy, and grace.
What does God say about forgiveness?
- The Bible gives us much instruction when it comes to forgiveness.
- We forgive because we have been forgiven by God (Ephesians 4:32).
- We forgive in obedience to God (Matthew 6:14-15; Romans 12:18).
- We forgive others to gain control of our lives from hurt emotions (Genesis 4:1-8).
- We forgive so we won’t become bitter and defile those around us (Hebrews 12:14-15)
To bring it down to my simple thinking, I see forgiveness as my “giving up the right to get even. I fire myself from being judge, jury and executioner.”
Dear God, I choose, because of your forgiveness of me, as an act of my will, regardless of my feelings, to forgive the person who has wronged me. I release them, and I set myself free to Your healing. With Your help, I will no longer dwell on the situation or continue to talk about it. I thank You for forgiving me so eventually I can forgive them. I thank You for releasing me. I ask this in Jesus’ name, Amen