“Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits; who forgiveth all thine iniquities.”
Psalm 103: 2,3
“Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.”
Matthew 6: 12
“Forgive” – To pardon. To renounce anger and resentment. To absolve from payment.
What does it mean to me when I hear the words, “You are forgiven?”
“When the thought of God does not remind us of our sin but that it is forgiven, and the past is no longer the memory of how much we did wrong, but of how much we were forgiven – then we rest in the forgiveness of sins.”
When I was a college student, trying to make every dollar stretch as far as possible, unexpected company came to visit and I found myself “tapped out.” I decided I could remedy the problem by working extra and a dear friend, finding out what I was going to do gave me an envelope with some money in it. I told them to take it back but they would hear nothing of it. So I told them I would pay them back later. But when I went to return the money, they refused saying they couldn’t remember how much money it was and furthermore, it was a gift and there was no debt, period!
Many times in my life, my thoughts have taken me back to this kind gesture by a friend. It is one of those acts that has, more than one time in my life, affected a decision I’ve made in dealing with someone who owed me money.
In the Lord’s Prayer, there is only one request that God makes of us. As William Temple, Archbishop of Canterbury wrote, “Only one petition in the Lord’s Prayer has any condition attached to it: it is the petition for forgiveness.”
This perfect prayer to our Father, connects only one of God’s gifts to an action on our part: “Forgive as you have been forgiven.” As our Father has so graciously wiped our slates clean…we are asked to do the same to others. Not because we have done anything to deserve God’s favor…but in gratitude for the blessed forgiveness I’ve been given, God asks me to extend His favor to those around me.
Make no mistake; forgiveness is not some tit-for-tat game I play with God. It isn’t an, “If you forgive, I’ll forgive” type of activity. My desire to forgive others comes as a direct result of the realization of how much I’ve been forgiven. When God informs me that, “I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, they transgressions, and, as a cloud, thy sins: return unto Me; for I have redeemed thee.” (Isa. 44: 22, K.J.V.) This good news overwhelms me with such a spirit of gratitude, I will not want to withhold this gift of forgiveness from anyone else – period.
I like the way Everett L. Worthington, Jr., explains the reason forgiveness is shared with others by individuals who have a grateful heart: “I think that in order to really have a forgiving sense…you need to recognize in a humble way that you, too, have hurt people, and you’ve been forgiven for some of those hurts…as people reflect on those times, they usually feel very grateful. They say, ‘I deserved condemnation for this nasty thing I did, but I got forgiveness, and I’m grateful – and I really would like to give that gift of freedom to the person who hurt me.’”
Understanding that my heavenly Father has shown me no more blame than if I were pure like His Son, is such a tremendous gift, that His request for me to bestow the same spirit of forgiveness as I have been given, is really a small thing to ask in comparison to all I have been given.
I want to share these thoughts by Catherine Coyle – and may this prayer be ours today:
As I count your many blessings,
Your gift of forgiveness is by far the most precious.
Please create in me a forgiving heart
That I might reveal your love and mercy.”
Strength to Live the Words We Say
“Forgive our sins as we forgive.”
you taught us, Lord, to pray,
but you alone can grant us grace
to live the words we say.
How can your pardon reach and bless
the unforgiving heart
that broods on wrongs and will not let
old bitterness depart?
In blazing light your Cross reveals
the truth we dimly knew:
what trivial debts are owed to us,
how great our debt to you!
Lord, cleanse the depths within our souls
and bid resentment cease.
Then, bound to all in bonds of love,
our lives will spread your peace.
Rosamond E. Herklots
(1905 – 1987).
Jesus Taught Us to Pray
God, beloved parent, hear us,
Father and Mother both,
In perfect symmetry;
Far beyond and yet within us-
Holy, Holy, Holy One,
We praise you in your glory.
May your kingdom
Which mysteriously abides
In the Now and the Not Yet
Be manifest among us.
May your first intentions
For your good creation
And your imaged creatures
Be finally fulfilled
Without hindrance of our making.
Feed us, El Shaddai, Sustainer,
That daily we may live and flourish,
Each according to our needs-
And not just bread, O Lord, but roses!
Bread for the body; beauty for the spirit.
Have mercy on us for our failings
And make us merciful when others fail us,
Not selfishly but in abundance.
Give us strength to turn away from evil,
Wisdom to avoid the snares of the Accuser.
And in the day of trial, protect your children.
Because you alone can do this,
You alone are holy,
Everything is yours, made by you,
Yesterday, today, forever,
From everlasting to everlasting.
Dorothy Valcàrcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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For more from Dorothy, please visit transformationgarden.com.