Friday, November 22, 2013

The Lord's Prayer: Forgive Our Debts...

As we pray through the prayer that Jesus taught his disciples, we pray for the Father's name to be praised, for his kingdom to come on this earth, and for our Father to give us what we need. In the midst of this we must remember that, since we live in a broken world, there will be debts that we will incur in our relationship to the Father, and debts that others will incur as they relate to us. Because the term "debt" brings to mind financial stuff, and because we have a tendency to downplay the wrong that we do, I prefer to use the word "sin."

In the gospels, we see Jesus forgiving sins and telling others to forgive. Jesus' ministry was one of forgiveness and reconciliation, and he calls his followers to be people of forgiveness and reconciliation. Luke tells us of the time Jesus was at the home of Simon the Pharisee, where his feet were washed by a "sinful" woman. Jesus stated that those who have been forgiven much are those who love much. None of us can say that we haven't been forgiven much. Well, I guess you could say it. But you'd be wrong. Just sayin'. We have been forgiven our sin against a holy God. That makes what God has done for us pretty huge. In our lives, I seriously doubt that any wrong done to us comes close to the wrong we have done God.

Matthew tells us of Peter's question of how many times we should forgive someone who sins against us. Peter though he was being generous with a number of seven. Jesus once again ups the ante. He states that we are to forgive seven times seven, or seventy times seven, depending on which translation you use. Jesus is not saying that we are to keep track of the wrongs done to us, and drop the hammer on the fiftieth or four hundred ninety first time. Many times, the number seven in Scripture speaks off completion. Maybe what Jesus is saying here is that we should forgive others completely and utterly no matter how many times they sin against us. I believe that Jesus' words imply reconciliation. Someone is not generally going to have the opportunity to wrong us multiple times unless we are in relationship with that person. We are called to be vulnerable with our brothers and sisters, being willing to be hurt by them and forgive.

In the same passage in Matthew, Jesus tells the story of the servant who owed his master a huge chunk of change. The master graciously forgave the entire debt, only to find out that this servant then went and imprisoned a fellow servant who owed him just a few bucks. I believe that the thrust of this story is that we have been forgiven an unpayable debt, so we are to forgive those who are indebted to us in what is essentially a minuscule amount. If we do not forgive, we are telling the world that we haven't been forgiven. Again, when we consider our huge debt that God has forgiven, how can we not forgive the tiny debt that anyone owes us. The Father has forgiven our great sin, and no wrong that is done to us can ever match that.

We are to live as forgiven, and forgiving, people. Anything less is contrary to what our Father wants.

1 comment:

KC Bob said...

"We are to live as forgiven, and forgiving, people."

Well stated Fred!

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