Have to be honest, got bogged down on this one. Focusing on forgiving those things that are considered ‘debts’ or actions of others that cost me something, is a tender wound; the greater the intimacy of the other person who has wounded you, the greater the ‘debt’. These are the things that leave scars and something most of us try to protect ourselves against. When harmed this way, we struggle to let go of the pain and forgive… as Christ has forgiven us. There in-lies the rub… sure I can mouth the words, but can I live as if they have never hurt me? Can I respond with a complete covering over of the debt owed me just as Christ has done to me..? If I understand who God is and His love for me, I can.
Notice where this statement comes in the prayer… it’s after knowing God as ‘our Father’ who has our good or ‘daily bread’ as His priority. Forgiveness comes after He has hallowed His name in our lives … showing Himself to us who in His debt as sinners, as good and faithful and loving to us; pouring out grace and mercy, and filing us up and satisfying us with true hope. It isn’t until after an understanding of these things that He expects us to know how to forgive as He completely forgives us.
When we understand His sacrifice consumed our debt; that is He completely bore the “Just’ wrath of God towards all sin. Having substituted Himself in our place and satisfied our debt to God, we are now free to enjoy all the blessings of our Father’s eternal daily provision. We are free because ‘God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with Him through Christ. This means that anyone who belongs to Christ, having placed their faith in His finished work of salvation and put on His cloak of righteousness as their own; they have become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to Himself through Christ… we don’t have to do anything but rest in His provision of ‘daily bread’. And God has given us this task, the wonderful opportunity of reconciling other people to him through forgiveness… especially those who have hurt us and are in our debt.” (2 Corinthians 5:17-21) Imagine the joy you have known from the ‘hallowing of His Name’ filling their lives and changing them as you have been made new in Christ… by Our Father.
There is a warning here as well. If we don’t forgive as God has freely forgiven us based on the shed blood of Jesus, we veil ourselves from enjoying any blessing of God’s presence in our lives. Paul tells us, “And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he has identified you as his own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior (anything that leaves God out and does not ‘hallow His name’ in your life). Instead, freely be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.” (Ephesians 4:30-32) As a child of God whose faith is in Jesus and has been sealed by His Spirit, we are guaranteed to be redeemed from the power of the grave at the resurrection day. Wherever God’s name is hallowed, the Spirit dwells as a Sanctifier; He is the earnest of all the joys and glories of that redemption day. But as His children we can also know and enjoy all of His blessed attributes and godly gifts now as we humbly allow His kingdom to rule our hearts and His will to be our will, ‘in our lives today as it is happening right now in Heaven’. Please don’t let His gifts of grace and love be undone in your life, should God’s Holy Spirit be veiled from us by our own choices.
Our power to forgive and its present, as well as eternal impact are found in our understanding of who our Father is and what He has done for you. I know it is not easy; I live with that knowledge every day as I run my fingertips across the scars inflicted by others. But when I humbly put my fingertips where my Saviour was pierced through in my place… and remember His Words, I am renewed, ‘Forgetting the past scars and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.” (Philippians 3:13-14) I am no longer imprisoned by the memory of the scar, but empowered by whose wounds I am healed. Having been renewed by the ‘Hallowing of His Name’ in my life, I am free to forgive as He has forgiven me.
“Now I’m standing in confidence,
With the strength of Your faithfulness;
And I’m not who I was before;
No, I don’t have to fear anymore.
So I’m thankful for the scars,
‘Cause without them I wouldn’t know Your heart.
And I know they’ll always tell of who You are; So forever I am thankful for the scars.”
(© Wordspring Music LLC)
Praying 4 U
Written by David Brown: David Brown is a husband, father, grandfather, Pastor with a Masters of Religious Studies and a Professor of Philosophy and Comparative Religions. Dave is the Associate Pastor of Pemberton’s First Baptist Church.