The Choice to Forgive

Be the Salt

Reflection to a friend’s blog about forgiveness and a devotional shared by a friend about prayer.

Matthew 6:9-15

9 “This, then, is how you should pray:
“‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,
10 your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’
14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

The pattern for prayer based on The Lord’s Prayer: (based on what I learned from Dr. Randy Pope, in our discipleship group material.)
1. God’s Honor (Matt. 6:9)
2. God’s Kingdom (Matt 6:10)
3. God’s Provision (Matt 6:11)
4. God’s Forgiveness (Matt 6:12)
5. God’s Power (Matt 6:13)

What I find interesting is the fact that almost all devotional books and sermons about the Lord’s Prayer always end at verse 13 when verses 14 and 15 are just as important because it states a condition, a command from Jesus for us. It is not an option. — 
v14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 
v15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

Verses 6-13 states a pattern while verses 14-15 gives a command. The reason may very well be because we find it so difficult to keep this command and that is why we find it so uncomfortable to share/discuss it.

We find it so difficult to forgive because we have a wrong concept of what it means to forgive. We often believe that when we forgive, we free that person from the wrong that had been done. Forgiveness is an active choice rather than a passive one. It takes conscious effort on our part to forgive and keep forgiving. It is a decision we make regardless of whether or not the offending party confesses, repents or seek forgiveness.  Forgiveness isn’t letting the offending party off the hook. It doesn’t free the offender from the consequence or the punishment due from his/her actions.  Forgiveness is letting ourselves off the hook. When we forgive, we are declaring that we will no longer allow ourselves to be imprisoned by the offender and the offense, we declare ourselves free from the bondage of anger and bitterness that we experience due to the offense done towards us. Unwillingness to forgive, holding on to the offense, anger and bitterness is just like taking poison and expecting the other person to die. It doesn’t work that way.

It’s really so hard to forgive, especially when an offender keeps repeating the same offense over and over again. But as Jesus said in Matthew 18:21-22, we need to keep forgive and keep forgiving. As difficult as it may be, We need to do it and we need God’s grace to be able to do it.

Let’s choose forgiveness and allow ourselves freedom from the bondage of anger and bitterness.

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