Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Devotion for today: Our death is in the details, or in the little word “as”

Matthew 6:12: And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.

This petition in The Lord’s Prayer, given to us by Jesus Himself, has a qualifier in it, the only one that does. Jesus is telling us in no uncertain terms that God will forgive us “as” we forgive others. Plain and simple: this is not hard to understand. We cannot hold back forgiveness, continue to punish others for actual or perceived wrongs, stand in judgment of others and declare them unworthy of our forgiveness, or continue to exact payment for wrongs once the offenders have said they are sorry unless we want God to do this to us when we die. Our offenses against God, every day of our lives, are horrible when we realize that God is pure love, and we are not. It is like mixing pure white snow with snow from the street. One is so beautiful, the other, well, not so much. If we honestly feel justified in withholding forgiveness and love from someone who we believe has offended us, then let us meditate on the Scripture passages below. It doesn’t get any clearer than this. We will continue our meditation tomorrow.
In answer to the question: Is it that important to forgive even if I believe I have been seriously wronged, meditate on Jesus’ words:

Matthew 6:14-15: For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

Matthew 18:34-35: In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.  “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.” (parable of the servant who was forgiven a large debt by his master, but refused to forgive a small debt owed to him)

Matthew 18:21-22: Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me- up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.”

Matthew 26:28: This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.

Mark 11:25: And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.

Luke 6:37: Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.

Luke 7:41-44: Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?” Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.” “You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.

Luke 7:47: Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.

Luke 17:3: So watch yourselves. If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them.

Luke 17:4: Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying ‘I repent,’ you must forgive them.”

Luke 23:34: Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.

Prayer for the grace to forgive:

Dear Lord, I come to you with a heart that is heavy with resentment. The hurt I carry with me is taking its toll… slowly closing the door of my heart to love. I have been unjustly hurt and I don’t want to forgive, yet, I beg you to grant me the grace to forgive the one who has hurt me, even though the very thought of doing so is painful to me.

Turn my eyes now to you and show me your wounds. Show me your bloody face. Show me your torn flesh. Help me to always remember that you are the True Victim who was suffered the most unjust hurt ever know to humankind. Give me the grace to be sorrowful for my sins that nailed you to the cross and whisper in my ear your loving words, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” With your tenderness, O Lord, I know my heart will melt and be filled with your love, that I may forgive my offender. Amen.

But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you (Matthew 5:44) 

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