Bible Verse: …and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. Matthew 6:12
Scripture Reading: Matthew 6:5-15
Unbroken is one of the most moving movies I have seen. Louie Zamperini was a World War II veteran, Olympic distance runner, and best known for being a Japanese prisoner of war survivor. His quest for revenge drove him to despair, putting his marriage on the brink of divorce until Billy Graham’s 1949 Los Angeles Crusade. Once he found faith in Jesus Christ, Louie renewed his commitment to his marriage, devoted his life to God, met with many of his wartime captors and found forgiveness for them.
“Forgive” in Aramaic means untie, release. Jesus’ teaching of “forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors” posts one big question: Does God forgive only once we’ve forgiven others? This reduces God’s forgiveness to a conditional transaction, doesn’t it? Right after the Lord’s Prayer, Matthew 6:14-15 says, “For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.”
Consider the context together. The Scripture is teaching us one thing first: to forgive. As we want God to forgive us, forgive others too. Our Abba Father is just but merciful (Exodus 34.6-7), His forgiveness is unconditional (Romans 5.8), and He is faithful to keeps His promise to forgive as we confess (1 John 1.9). We have been forgiven so much, let us be forgiving too!
God’s forgiveness sets my heart on fire! The first time as a new Christian witnessing a baptism, I could not hold my tears when the disciple shared Psalm 8:4, “What is man that you are mindful of Him?” Who am I that I deserve the forgiveness of the Holy Almighty God?
Fifteen years later, after becoming a pastor, I was soaked with tears at the Communion Table during the New Pastor Retreat. Just a few years ago, I committed something quite shameful as a pastor and a father. Being convicted by the Spirit, I discussed with my wife immediately, then pulled our teenage kids together and confessed before all of them. As soon as I told them the story and received prayers from everyone my heart was so relieved as if a huge weighted knot was instantly lifted up from my shoulders!
I have been forgiven so much, I am learning to be forgiving too. Forgiving others is to untie the knots. But if we do not forgive, or have a critical unforgiving spirit, we are tying a nasty knot around ourselves. No wonder the late theologian Lewis Smedes said: “To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was myself.”
Whom shall you forgive? Or first ask yourself: how deep is God’s forgiveness to you?
Abba Father, who am I? Who are you? I want to imitate Christ’s love. Please give me the courage to untie the knots in my life.
— William Hui, English Ministry Lead Pastor, Richmond Pacific Grace Church, Richmond, BC.
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