Focus: Forgiving others
Matthew 6:9-13 (NKJV) Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come, Your will be done. On earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.
In the middle of the Lord’s Prayer, the meaning of one important sentence could be easily missed—if we’re just saying the words out of habit and not considering what we’re praying in all seriousness. The part that says, “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors”, is almost like a ‘trick question’ on a ‘pop quiz’. It’s that question way down at the end of a bunch of easy questions that could be taken two ways. If you’re not paying attention, you give an answer that seems obvious—but the answer you think is right—is not right. And when the papers are corrected—well, guess what? You got that one wrong.
As we continue to look at the prayer Jesus taught His disciples to pray, we certainly don’t want to miss a line as important as this one. This line has everything to do with whether our prayers will be answered—or not.
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It’s so typical to want our prayers to be answered—but not want the accountability that could make that wish come true. God has very definite issues with people who are not willing to forgive others. “Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors”, is really another way of saying what we refer to as the Golden Rule—which says, ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.’
The Golden Rule is based on a few scriptures. Leviticus 19:18 (NKJV) says, “You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.” Jesus said in Matthew 7:12 (KJV), “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.” Another passage on the Golden Rule principle is found in Luke 10:25-28 (NIRV). “And one day an authority on the law stood up to put Jesus to the test. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to receive eternal life?” Jesus replied, “What is written in the Law? How do you understand it?” He answered, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. Love Him with all your strength and with all your mind (ref. Deuteronomy 6:5). And love your neighbor as you love yourself.” “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do that, and you will live.”
Jesus goes on to tell the parable of the Good Samaritan. At the end of the story, He provides the answer to the question, “Who is my neighbor?” by saying that ‘your neighbor’ is anyone who is in need.
Throughout scripture, we see that the Golden Rule philosophy applies to not only doing for others as we would want them to do for us—but also forgiving others if we expect to be forgiven ourselves.
In Matthew 18:22-35 (NKJV) Jesus tells another story. “Therefore the kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. And when he had begun to settle accounts, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. But as he was not able to pay, his master commanded that he be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and that payment be made. The servant therefore fell down before him, saying, “Master, have patience with me, and I will pay you all.” Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt.”
“But that servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and he laid hands on him and took him by the throat, saying, “Pay me what you owe!” So his fellow servant fell down at his feet and begged him, saying, “Have patience with me, and I will pay you all.” And he would not, but went and threw him into prison till he should pay the debt.”
“So when his fellow servants saw what had been done, they were very grieved, and came and told their master all that had been done. Then his master, after he had called him, said to him, “You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?” And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him. “So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.”
Declaration: I will find new strength by accepting the truth Jesus spoke about God’s attitude toward those who don’t forgive others or do for others. I will stop excusing myself from being obedient to the Word. Because I want my ways will please God, I will forgive.
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