by Lucy Britten
'Our Father in heaven, may your name be honoured. May your Kingdom come soon. May your will be done here on earth, just as it is in heaven. Give us our food for the day, and forgive us our sins, just as we have forgiven those who have sinned against us. And don't let us yield to temptation, but deliver us from the evil one'. (Matt 6:9-13)
Wow! Have you ever really looked hard at that prayer, it contains everything we need for living? Can you imagine how different our lives would be if we prayed and lived by that daily?! The line however that jumps out at me for this devotional is 'forgive our sins, just as we have forgiven those who have sinned against us'. We know that God has called us to ask for forgiveness, but what's all this about 'just as we have forgiven those who have sinned against us'. Why should we if we have been hurt by someone? The question we need to address here is - "who benefits most here if I forgive?" I believe the answer to that question is an easy one. The person who benefits the most when you choose to forgive is you!
The main reason we need to forgive is because God has commanded us to.
The second reason is that unforgiveness is a barrier to God and to His forgiveness. "If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins" (Matt 6:14-15).
A third reason to forgive is that we are helping the person who wronged us to receive forgiveness too. "If you forgive anyone's sins, they are forgiven. If you refuse to forgive them, they are unforgiven" (John 20:23).
Forgiveness sets us free, if wee keep hold of anger, hurt, pain or guilt, it eats up inside, and we need to let all of that go in order to live wholesome lives and feel free to serve God and other people.
Now, all this talk of forgiveness makes it sound so easy, I can tell you from experience that at times it can feel like the hardest thing in the world. You'd rather die than forgive that guy for dumping you, or that girl you thought was a mate for spreading nasty rumours about you, but this is when God steps in. Forgiveness is a conscious decision and it may take a long time, but with God's help it can happen.
If you think forgiveness is not really an important or particularly necessary thing to do, you need to think of Jesus, hanging on the cross and all He had to suffer - the cruelest death created by man, and all the humiliation and pain before He even got nails put through His wrists. Could you or I have hung there and genuinely asked God to forgive the people below, most of them still mocking and laughing at Him. If Jesus was able to do that for us, surely we can forgive that boy or that girl.
God commands us to forgive, but he doesn't expect us to do it on our own, if we genuinely want to forgive for the wrong that's been done for us, He promises He'll help.
We are, however only human, and if we're honest there's that little voice in our heads that's wishing the person who wronged us would get what they deserve. That is where Jesus had it sorted. He knew without a doubt that every person one day will have to stand before God and give an account of what they did with their time on earth. That is when the wrongs that have gone unnoticed will finally be brought to justice. But, for me that would be too late. Can you imagine the despair you would feel if you'd been given the opportunity to forgive and ignored it, only to have to face God himself and explain why you chose to keep hold of your bitterness. That for me, and anyone else who loves Jesus with a passion, would be hell itself.
The encouragement I want to give you today is to -FORGIVE!!!! Ask God to help you, don't try to do it on your own, it's far too difficult. Just get on your knees and ask God to free you up from all the nasty things that have been going on inside you. The when you begin to forgive that person, you'll feel the most wonderful freedom and wonder why on earth you didn't ask for this sooner. It's not cool to hold onto bitterness and anger for someone, and it's not actually hurting them as much as it is you, they may not even know about it while you're tied in knots. Why not give yourself a break and let God take over!
If you really want to forgive someone today pray this prayer with me: "Jesus, I may not be able to see you, but you are here and you know exactly what is in my heart. I'm so sorry for feeling angry about what this person has done to me, and I'm sorry that it's putting a barrier between you and me. Please first forgive me, then help me to forgive them. I'm fed up with feeling sad or angry about this, and want to feel your peace and joy you promise to everyone who asks. Amen.
If you prayed that prayer you have taken the first step to a life of amazing freedom, well done!! Don't delay, get on your knees and forgive!!!!!