On Sunday, we continued our series on The Lord’s Prayer called “Pray Like Jesus” by looking at the phrase “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.” Forgiveness is central to the Biblical narrative. Jesus died on the cross, taking on our sin, so that we might be forgiven. As recipients of grace and forgiveness, we too are to forgive those who hurt us. We are to forgive as God forgives. But this is hard because we are not God.
I think rather than forgiving, what we often do is tolerate. We tolerate someone’s words or actions against us- where forgiving means we confront the offender and name the offense- and we make a decision to forgive. Forgiveness is not sweeping something under the rug, that’s tolerating. And if we tolerate, that we’ll one day pick up the rug and remember the offenses and hold it against the offender.
Forgiveness is different. It takes back the power from the offender by naming the wrong. But it goes a step further in releasing the offender from their offense. That is what God has done for us and the challenge is that we might do that to others. That when we truly forgive that we “set the captives free.” True, life-giving, chain-breaking forgiveness like this only comes from the love and grace of God dwelling in us (and for us to dwell in God).
On my own, I am not capable of this kind of forgiveness. But when I live in close proximity and intimacy with God, I become overwhelmed by God’s grace and desire to share that same gift of grace to those around me- especially to those who have hurt and offended me.
When we pray “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors,” we are praying that the breadth and the depth of God’s grace and mercy in our life would be evident and lead us to offer that same gift to those around us.