As we continue through the Gospel of Luke, I’ve been posting about the Lord’s Prayer. It should be an example to us of how we should approach God in prayer.
Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.
Luke 11:4 NIV
This is a very simple statement, but it contains a world of truth. Forgiveness is such an important concept in our walk as Christians.
We start by asking the Lord to forgive our sins. In my experience, many believers have no idea what they’re really asking. They think they’re asking God to forget about the evil things that they’ve done. That’s not what’s being said.
The word, forgive, literally means to pick up and remove totally. It’s like when you put your trash out on the street for the sanitation worker to come and take it away. You never want to see it again.
Along with that, the word, sin, doesn’t only mean evil. It means all of the areas where we miss the mark of God’s perfect will for our lives. Even if we’re just a little bit off in some area, that counts as sin in God’s eyes.
So, what we’re really asking the Lord to do is to remove all of those areas where we’re missing God’s best. We want our lives to be brought up to the level where it should be in Christ.
But this begs the question; do we really want this forgiveness? What I think I’m asking is for God to forget that I’ve done wrong. However, I might not want to stop doing wrong in certain areas of my life.
True repentance is the desire for God to totally remove wrongdoing from my life. I want to see myself free of the things that displease the Lord. If I don’t want to repent, then I’m not truly asking for forgiveness.
Now we flip to the other side of the coin. How do we respond to others in the light of God’s forgiveness? You may not like the answer to this question.
That’s because we need to follow the Lord’s example and forgive others the same way. That means we have to remove something. However, the translation of this verse is a little off. It doesn’t really tell me to forgive someone’s sin.
The second word, sin, is actually a Greek word that means debts. This literally means people who we feel they owe us something or are obligated to us in some way. This is way beyond only the evil things that have been done to us.
This is something that we’re called to do, in the same way that the Lord accomplished it. What do I mean by this? To understand this we have to see what Christ did as He was hanging on the cross.
Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.
Luke 23:34 NIV
This is the hardest part of forgiveness. Jesus offered forgiveness before He was ever asked to forgive.
In the Lord’s Prayer, we’re saying that we forgive everyone who is indebted to us. It does not say we forgive all those who ask for forgiveness.
We need to release everyone from their debts and obligations to us, whether they ask for it or not. That’s tough to do.
Does that mean we don’t take the money or services that people owe us? Absolutely not! But, in our hearts, we have released them from their debts so that we don’t become annoyed or bitter if they take too long or even refuse to “pay up”.
We need to live our lives with an attitude of forgiveness. This is especially true when it comes to the way people treat us. If we get upset and bitter every time someone treats us poorly, then we’re in for a very miserable life.
Seeking true forgiveness from God, and living a forgiving life, is the best way to go. It’s not easy, but we’ll find that it’s the best way to keep the joy of the Lord within us.
Question: What are the obligations that you need to forgive in your heart right now?
© 2022 Nick Zaccardi