Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us.
Forgive us when we screw up. When we hurt ourselves and those around us, by accident, on purpose. Just like when we forgive those who screw up and hurt us, by accident, on purpose.
This is where you gotta put your money where your mouth is. We are told that God is happy to forgive us when we ask. This is drummed into us from day 1 but there seems here to be some kind of link between how God forgives us and how we forgive others.
Although not mentioned near this passage, Jesus tells the story of an unforgiving servant. Long story short; a servant who owes a massive amount of money to the King begs to be let off. The King takes pity on him and lets him off completely. This servant then goes and beats up another servant who owes him, like, 5€ or something. Needless to say, the story doesn’t have a happy ending for this first servant who is tortured until repays his debt in full (an impossible task even beforehand).
For some reason God seems to think it’s important that we also forgive each other so we can experience His forgiveness for our own sins / screw ups.
Do you remember that bit in the film where Evan’s long suffering wife is doing a runner and is sitting in a restaurant when God (check out the name tag 😉 ) turns up to answer the questions she’s asking in her heart. It’s beautiful. Here, watch this for a moment ..
Here I am, thinking about forgiveness and now it seems that God is giving me the opportunity to practice it.
No sooner had I started drafting this article, than I realised that I’ve still got issues with the kids who bullied me at school. Also someone took my brand new under-shirt (merino wool, technical base layer) from the drying cabinet at work. So now God is asking me to put my money where my mouth is. Damn.
Here’s the thing. I can’t even find these people now and stare at them until they apologise. I have to forgive them (I am dealing with this, right now, as I am writing) without them even asking to be forgiven and without them even knowing how pissed I am that I need to make the first move and forgive them. They won’t even know I have forgiven them.
So .. for the record. .. (this sucks ..)
Jesus, I forgive the guys at school who made my life a misery. I’m sorry I’ve held onto that grudge for so long. I actually never knew it was there. I hand the pain and resentment to you. And the guy who took my new shirt .. ARGH!! that .. .. I forgive him for taking the shirt, whether or purpose or by accident. If I don’t get it back, well, let it serve him well.
These people who hurt me or made my life harder than it should be, I forgive them. I let them off. I let go of the feelings of indignation and the feeling that I am justified in being pissed off. They will eat me up anyway. I’m sorry I held onto those feelings longer than I should have done. Would you forgive me too for that ?
Jesus, would you do something nice for those people, maybe let them know you are real.
Well I guess I feel a little better, but it still sucks that I lost a good shirt. Maybe when that memory or feeling comes back I can ask God to do something nice for the person wearing it.
I know it all seems very … Sunday school …, turn the other cheek and all, but I’m honestly not sure what other options I have if I’m letting go of being hurt. I can’t very well keep complaining if I am giving up the right to complain.
Back on track ..
Thinking about the flow of the prayer, I like how this section crops up. This bit of the prayer comes after we’ve asked for our daily bread. It comes after we have experienced God’s goodness. It comes after we ask God for His kingdom to be on earth like it is in heaven. It comes after we realise that God loves us.
God is our loving heaven father. He is pure. His kingdom on earth would just be amazing. He wants to give us what we need, every day. Because of all this we just feel the need to say, “God, you know what, I’m sorry for messing up yesterday.”.
Does this really mean that God is willing to be our Father, set up his kingdom with us, meet our daily needs, all this before we’ve even before we’ve said sorry. Don’t we have to be perfect to get God to like us? Seems not. Seems that he quite likes us even before we’ve started to make amends. Seems He’s a bigger man than me.
Suppose the guy who took my shirt phones me (I left a note on the dryer door). If I’m still holding a grudge and get all snarky on him for what was, I guess, an honest mistake, that’s not really fair on him, is it? It closes down the relationship for the future, shuts the door and just leaves me with one more thing I need to apologise for. Quite the opposite happens if I forgive him.
All of us live in world where we sometimes do terrible things to each other. What world would you want to live in, really. A world where each one of us is consumed by pain, anger, hurt, indignation – spending our time trying to “get back” at the one who hurt us, or a world where we are able to take a deep breath and let it go.
That’s good for us. It’s good for others.
The letting go is hard. You might have been hurt in the worst way possible. But think about the story I mentioned earlier, and about Jesus. Jesus gave his own life as act of forgiveness towards us. We’ve been let off an un-payable debt (more on that later). We are left with only two choices.
Forgive, or not forgive.