Jan 23, 2020

Grace to Go / Jan 26

Our study of the Lord’s Prayer continues: Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.

Or another way to look at this is: Forgive us our failures as we, too, forgive those who failed us. 

“Will you forgive me?” “Yes. Of course.” 

The number of times I’ve said either of those phrases and not completely believed it or meant it, rung in my ears.

The part that really stuck with me from this past weekend’s message is what it means to truly forgive. It doesn’t mean to forget or ignore or act like it [whatever “it” is] never happened. 

Forgiveness means that a cost has been absorbed. 

For example, when forgiving a monetary debt, that money doesn’t just disappear. Instead, the person forgiving the debt absorbs or “eats” the cost of the debt. 

It’s easy to understand in this example, because there’s something tangible that is forgiven. But what about other types of forgiveness? What kind of cost can you put on emotional hurt, trauma, betrayal, deception…? That’s where the power of forgiveness comes in to play.

Forgive us our failures as we forgive those who failed us. 

True forgiveness starts with an understanding of how God has forgiven us. 
God doesn’t excuse our sin. There is a cost to the sin and it has to be accounted for. However, instead of us having to repay a non-repayable debt, it was paid for by Jesus. He shed His blood. He was crucified for all my failures. And in God’s mercy, He offers to apply what Jesus has paid to my account, if I would receive it.

So when we pray for forgiveness, it’s not just wishful, finger’s crossed, “I hope I’m on God’s good side today” kind of praying. It’s founded upon the absolute and final payment Jesus has made on our behalf. 

When you understand this kind of forgiveness, it lends itself to forgiving others. And the more you’ve been forgiven, the more you will forgive. It’s the natural and expected response. 

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Forgive us our failures as we forgive those who failed us. 

Forgiving does not mean excusing. 

In the wise words of C.S. Lewis:
“We are so very anxious to point these things out to God (and to ourselves) that we are apt to forget the very important thing; that is, the bit left over, the bit which excuses don’t cover, the bit which is inexcusable but not, thank God, unforgivable. And if we forget this, we shall go away imagining that we have repented and been forgiven when all that has really happened is that we have satisfied ourselves with our own excuses. They may be very bad excuses; we are all too easily satisfied about ourselves.”

We have to remember that God knows all the excuses. If there are real extenuating circumstances, God’s not going to overlook them. All the excusable stuff, he’ll take care of. What we have to identity is the inexcusable part, the sin. 

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Forgive us our failures as we forgive those who failed us. 

Forgiving does not mean forgetting or ignoring. Forgiveness does not mean denying the harm. 

You have to name the wrong to God, and to others. If I close the door on the leaky faucet, it doesn’t mean that the leaky faucet doesn’t exist. Or that the damage it will do doesn’t exist. It means that I have a problem and I can either ignore it, which could potentially lead to bigger problems down the road, or I can name the issue and address it now. 

Sin is way worse than a leaky faucet. 

“…forgiving does not mean forgetting the harm. It does not mean denying the harm. It does not mean pretending the harm did not happen or the injury was not as bad as it really was. Quite the opposite is true. The cycle of forgiveness can be activated and completed only in absolute truth and honesty.” – Desmond Tutu 

Forgive us our failures as we forgive those who failed us. 

Do you hear God’s invitation today? Are you tired of having to make up for your sins? To try and earn forgiveness? We don’t have to keep making excuses. God offers forgiveness through Jesus His Son. Real forgiveness, not excusing, not minimizing, but forgiveness. That is the good news!

We can bring all our sin in all of its ugliness to God and humbly ask for forgiveness. And because He’s forgiven us, we can forgive others freely. 

Where do you need forgiveness? No excuses. No explanations. Just confession and admission. Who do you need to forgive?

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