“In the fifth request (Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors), encouraged by God’s grace, which makes it possible for us sincerely to forgive others, we pray that for Christ’s sake God would freely pardon all our sins.” – Shorter Catechism Q. 105
This petition highlights my need to confess my sin to God and experience his forgiveness. Mindful of his unconditional love for me I can then extend forgiveness to others who have offended me. I always need to be questioning my attitudes in relationships. “Am I forgiving?”
Even though I’m a Christian, my feelings of guilt and shame, at various times and to varying degrees, impede my experience of God’s forgiveness. I find myself striving to justify myself and appease God by trying harder. Even my hurt pride is resistant to receiving God’s forgiveness.
Jesus also alerts me to a sobering reality. In pride I choose not to forgive others for what they have done to me. When I don’t forgive the hurts others have caused me, I am not functioning in the grace of Jesus. I easily become bitter, resentful, and end up holding grudges.
What does my inability to forgive others who have wronged me show about my view of God’s forgiveness? If I keep records of their wrong, and hold people in my debt, it reveals my spiritual pride, and shows I think I can earn God’s approval.
I see a correlation. The degree to which I find myself holding the sins of others against them is the degree to which I fail to experience God’s unconditional love and forgiveness personally.
I always need to be questioning my attitudes in relationships. “Am I forgiving?”Corey Porter
I find it sobering that Jesus follows up his teaching of this prayer with these next two verses.
For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. (Matthew 6:14-15)
Every time I read the following parable of Jesus, I am convicted. The Holy Spirit uses these words to awaken and convict my conscience of people I need to forgive.
“Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold was brought to him. Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.
“At this the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.
“But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded.
“His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’
“But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened.
“Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.
“This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.” (Matthew 18:21-35)
Take pause and ask yourself these questions: Why am I failing to experience God’s unconditional love and forgiveness? Considering my relationships, who are the people I need to forgive?
Take a moment to rehearse and express your forgiveness towards those who have hurt you by praying for them. Make a bold request of God. “Assure me and those whom I am choosing to forgive of your unconditional love and forgiveness.”
When we pray, “Forgive us our debts, as we have also forgiven our debtors,” we pray that we would all experience the unconditional love and forgiveness of Jesus as we confess our sin, by extending forgiveness and grace to ourselves and those who have sinned against us.
Please pray for our students, that they would continually confess their sin to God and one another, that they would experience the unconditional forgiveness of Jesus personally, and in turn, unreservedly extend forgiveness to those who have sinned against them.
Written by Corey Porter.
Haven’t read the earlier parts of this series? You can catch up:
- The Lord’s Prayer: Learning to worship God in my prayers.
- Our Father in heaven
- Hallowed be your name
- Your kingdom come
- Your will be done
- Give us today our daily bread
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