27 For those of you who were baptized into Christ have been clothed with Christ. 28 There is no Jew or Greek, slave or free, male and female; since you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, heirs according to the promise. — Galatians 3:27-29
Forgive Others as We Have Been Forgiven
by Doug Jones
“Forgive us our sins, as we _________ those who sin against us.” I remember the countless times we prayed “The Prayer” before every Little League baseball game. With our oversized ballcaps in one hand, chomping on Big League Chew gum, and kicking the red dirt in the dugout with our cleats, I always wondered if we understood what we were reciting, with all the “halloweds” and “thines” scattered throughout the prayer. To be honest, we were probably more concerned about the flavor of the snow cone after the game than with our heavenly Father’s forgiveness. However, as I reflect on Jesus’ prayer, I wonder if any of us grasp the gravity of the petition: measuring God’s forgiveness toward us based on our forgiveness to others?
After 23 years of pastoral ministry, I am convinced that one of the greatest challenges we face is to “forgive those who have sinned against us.” All of us have suffered the pain and consequences of betrayal, injustice, wickedness and sin caused by others. For some of us, that sin is severe, the trauma is deep, and the pain seems to encompass every aspect of our lives. One of the characteristics of being created in the image of God is an innate desire for justice and vindication. The thought of forgiving those who have sinned against us can be offensive and even repulsive. How could we! How dare we! To forgive just doesn’t seem right, prudent or fair.
In addition, the difficulty we face with forgiving others is the fact that we too have sinned—not only against God, but also against others. The very vindication and justice we demand, others will demand from us. Furthermore, Scripture says we are “born into sin—born dead!” As a result, our will, perspective, understanding and worldview about ourselves, others and even God, are so affected by our own sin nature, that it makes it impossible for us to be able to “see clearly” without God’s forgiveness and new life that ONLY comes from Jesus.
Ephesians 4:32 says, “Be kind and compassionate to one another; forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ.” Do you see the standard of forgiveness? “Just as God also forgave us in Christ.” How did God forgive us in Christ? Scripture says “God forgives all our iniquities…and that He has thrown them as far away as the east is from the west” (Psalm 103:3, 12). Because of His great love for us, He has forgiven us. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:21 that God treated Jesus, who did not know sin, to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God. Jesus took our sin upon His own body and shed His innocent blood on the cross so that we could be forgiven. He suffered the death we so deserve, so we could be reconciled back to God. THIS IS HOW GOD HAS FORGIVEN US IN CHRIST!!! COMPLETELY. TOTALLY. UTTERLY. FULLY. THOROUGHLY. ETERNALLY. WHOLLY and HOLY.
We are commanded to forgive others as God has forgiven us in Christ. In our own strength, this is an impossible task. However, through the power, presence and Spirit of Jesus, we can forgive as God forgives. We can do all things through Christ, who gives us strength. If we rely on HIS power and presence, He will give us the strength, power and love to forgive as we have been forgiven.
- According to the Lord’s Prayer, how much will God forgive us? In other words, what is the standard of His forgiveness?
- How has God forgiven you?
- How does it make you feel, knowing that our Heavenly Father has forgiven you of EVERY SIN you have ever done and WILL ever do?
- Is there anyone in your life against whom you are guarding bitterness, resentment, hate and/or anger? If so, are you willing to forgive them through the power and presence of Jesus?
- If you are willing to forgive those who have sinned against you, I encourage you to pray out loud the following prayer of confession and forgiveness: “Heavenly Father, I thank You for Your mercy and grace. Thank You for forgiving me of all my sin. I come before You today because people have sinned against me. It hurts, and I want vindication. However, You command me to forgive those who have sinned against me. So, I confess to You that I am guarding anger, bitterness, resentment, hate and judgements against _____________ (mention each person by name). This is my sin. I don’t want it, and I don’t need it. I ask that You come in Your name and in Your power, and free me from my sin. Because You have commanded me to forgive others as You have forgiven me, in the name of Jesus Christ, I forgive ________________ (mention each person by name). They have sinned against me and have hurt me. As You have forgiven me, I forgive them. I cannot do this in my own strength, so I ask that You, Lord Jesus, come and do this for me. Thank you, Lord. I ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.”
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 2017 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Christian Standard Bible® and CSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.