Bible Verse: “And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” (Matthew 6:12)

Scripture Reading: Matthew 18:21-35

It has been said that the only thing we learn from history is that we learn nothing from history; and because we do not learn from the past, we are destined to repeat it. A quick scan of the tumultuous world scene reveals skirmishes, fighting and way between groups that have been at odds for a very long time. Revenge fuels the engines of hate, compressing anger deeper and tighter into the soul; eruptions of horror being the natural consequence.

Although less newsworthy, the same thing happens at your address and mine. Every morning, like an accurate financial transaction, we carry forward pain, loss, hatred and bitterness from yesterday’s account and then wonder why our emotional ledger always runs a deficit. Our mind rehearses the ache; our anger feeds on it; our words and actions reveal its growing control.

I am about to suggest a way out of this life-sucking black hole. If implemented, it would revolutionize interaction at all levels. It is guaranteed to eliminate the deficit columns of life and to enable the building of relationships in the home, the community, the work place, the government and beyond. This method has not be “tried and found wanting.” It has been tried, found difficult and therefore abandoned.

The only sure way to break the power of past pain is to use the mighty weapon of “forgiveness.” Many assume that forgiveness is a wimpy, passive surrender only for weaklings. The opposite is true. It is the strong, the secure, and the stable who are most able to forgive (not necessarily more willing but more able). If I suffered a loss and the money you owe me is crucial to my survival, I will be less likely to forgive the debt than if I don’t need the cash. The one who forgives, who releases the debt, who lets go of the offense is the one who has a greater reserve, superior power and stronger character, manifesting moral fiber.

Two thousand years ago, Jesus taught us to pray a phrase that, if meant and practiced, would bring about a relational revolution. It would reconcile us both with God and with each other. It would fill our mental, emotional, relational and spiritual accounts with abundance. We are to address the one who have been more offended than anyone in history, the one whom we continually hurt and fail, the one who has every right to reject and imprison us for outstanding debts. We are to say to this one, “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.”

Whenever we dare to pray those words with sincerity, God shouts, “YES! I forgive you. I let you go. I release you from all that you owe me. It’s over. I have absorbed the loss. I welcome you back.”

Having experienced forgiveness, it is now ours to extend. With debts erased, we can start fresh and rebuild what has been broken for far too long.

— Dave Petrescue in Pastor Dave’s Reflections. Copyright © Brenda Petrescue, 2008. Used by permission


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