Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us….Oh, what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sin is put out of sight! (Matthew 6:12; Psalm 32:1 NLT)
Our Forgiving Lord
How beautiful is it that God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit is the forgiving God! He calls Himself the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin.1 So we praise, bless Him, and thank Him! And Christ teaches that we must imitate God.
Forgiveness is a divine and a human virtue. Animals can’t and don’t forgive. Dogs bite and bees sting when something threatens them. Cats fight and claw, when something offends them. But we are not animals, beloved, we are Christians, saved by God to be Christ-like. We must not retaliate, strike back, or seek revenge when people hurt us. By God’s grace, we must imitate Jesus and forgive those who give us trouble. Christ says that we must forgive seventy times seven times a day if necessary.2 Jesus taught us to pray: Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us. Other translations say: Forgive us our debts and trespasses, our wrongs and shortcomings as we forgive others.
It’s Trickle Down Process
Notice, first we seek and receive forgiveness from the Lord for our failing, our falling, our wrong. Then we pay it forward and forgive others because we can’t pay back God.
The United States Bullion Depository is a fortified vault building next to the Fort Knox Army Post. It is operated by the U.S. Department of the Treasury and stores over half the country’s gold reserves. It is well protected by the U.S. Mint Police. It holds over 4.5 metric tons of gold reserves with a market value of over $290 billion. Our sin debt against the Lord is bigger than that, so big, that nothing can buy God off and settle our liability.
So God the Father sent God the Son to die on the cross and rise from the grave to pay our debt, in our place. And after Christ suffered the punishment His people deserve He said: It is finished, tetelestai (in Greek), paid in full.3
Philip Bliss’s hymn says:
Bearing shame and scoffing rude, in my place condemned Jesus stood,
Sealed my pardon with His blood: Hallelujah! what a Savior!4
Notice, Christ suffered the penalty and His believers get the benefits!
Frances Alexander’s hymn also says:
There was no other good enough to pay the price of sin;
Christ only could unlock the gate of Heaven, and let us in.5
It’s the greatest news of all eternity! God forgives all who believe on Christ, His Son, our Substitute and Savior. So now, being a Christian means forgiving the inexcusable in other people, because God has forgiven the inexcusable in us. Forgiveness is essential to make all our human relationships work and thrive. It’s essential for love, peace, and joy in the family, church, office, community, and world. Jesus teaches: Forgive us our sins, As we forgive those who sin against us.
Let’s Not Be Pharisees
The villains in the New Testament are the Pharisees. They are proud, judgmental, and hyper-critical. They are blind to their own wrongs and condemn others for the same sins they commit. They accuse and look down on other people. They are picky, petty, miserable, and devilish. Christians must not become “accidental Pharisees” in our dealings with people.6
Here’s God’s Better Way
1. We must seek daily forgiveness from the Lord ourselves.
2. We must receive forgiveness from God for ourselves.
3. Then we must show, extend, give forgiveness daily to others, as Christ does for us.
Seek Daily Forgiveness from God
We need that. I don’t want to, but I sin every day against the Lord and other people in word, thought, and deed. All of us do. None of us are flawless. None are perfect. We are bruised, bent, and broken people, all of us.
The Scriptures say that we are not righteous, we are not truly wise, we do not seek the God of the Bible as we should. We turn away from Him and become useless. When we know the good we ought to do and don’t do it, it is sin for us. Sometimes, our talk is foul, our tongues tell lies, and our mouths spew cursing and bitterness. Instead of building peace, we sometimes stir up conflict. We fail to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength and to love our neighbor as our self.
I don’t want to, but I break God’s law inwardly and outwardly. All of us do, all the time. Falling into sin is still an ongoing problem for Christ’s followers. The Bible says: We all stumble in many ways. For our flesh (sinful nature) desires what is contrary to the Holy Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, to keep us from doing the good things we want to do to please God our Savior.7
Best-selling author Daniel Pink is Jewish and he writes that regret is the second most common emotion felt among human beings and it’s beneficial. He says that regret is normal, healthy, universal, and valuable. It clarifies and instructs us. Done right, regret doesn’t drag us down. It can lift us up.8
The New Testament says: The kind of sorrow God wants us to experience leads us away from sin and results in salvation. There’s no regret for that kind of sorrow. But worldly sorrow, which lacks repentance (coming back to God), results in spiritual death.9 So we must be honest with the Lord and ourselves and admit our wrong, every day. And ask God to forgive us again and again for Jesus’ sake. Remember, Christ paid the Fort Knox sized debt, on the cross, for us, once for all. So let’s keep seeking His daily forgiveness. That keeps us humble, not proud like Pharisees. And it changes our marriages and all our relationships. Jesus teaches: Forgive us our sins, As we forgive those who sin against us.
To be continued.
Notes (various Bible translations used): 1 Exodus 34:6-7. 2 Matt 18:22. 3 John 19:30. 4 From “Man of Sorrows.” 5 From “There Is a Green Hill Far Away.” 6 See Accidental Pharisees: Avoiding Pride, Exclusivity, and the Other Dangers of Overzealous Faith by Larry Osborne. 7 James 3:2; Gal 5:17. 8 Adapted from Daniel Pink “‘No Regrets’ Is No Way to Live,” The Wall Street Journal (1-28-22). 9 2 Cor 7:10.