Discover why forgiveness is so critical

Monday, January 28, 2013, Part 3

“In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors” (Matthew 6:9-12).

IDEA: The petition “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors” is the terrible petition.

PURPOSE: To help listeners realize why forgiveness is essential to the way we relate to others.

What do you think would get the largest vote as the more important petition in the Lord’s Prayer? – “Give us this day our daily bread” or “forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors”?

Which do you think is the most important?

I. Augustine called this “the terrible petition.” Can you guess why?

If we pray “forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors,” we are really asking God not to forgive us.

Jesus explains that again at the close of the prayer in Matthew 6:14-15: “For if you forgive others 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.”

In Matthew 5:7 Jesus says, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.”

II. Noted teachers of the Scriptures agree with Augustine.

When John Wesley was serving as a missionary to the American colonies, he had an encounter with General Oglethorpe, a man known for his pride. Wesley pled that he would forgive a man who was given a severe penalty for an minor infraction. In a particularly prideful moment Oglethorpe said, “I never forgive!” Wesley replied, “Then I hope, sir, you never sin.” Wesley knew that if we make an unforgiving spirit a virtue, we cannot be forgiven.

Thomas Watson, the noted Puritan, said, “a man can as well go to hell for not forgiving as for not believing.

Charles Spurgeon, a Baptist, agreed when he said in a sermon on this passage, “Unless you have forgiven others, you read your own death-warrant when you repeat the Lord’s Prayer.”

C. S. Lewis, an Anglican, wrote: “No part of [Jesus’] teaching was clearer, and there are no exceptions to it. He doesn’t say that we are to forgive other people’s sins providing they are not too frightful, or providing there are extenuating circumstances. We are to forgive them all, however spiteful, however mean, however often they are repeated. If we don’t, we shall be forgiven none of our own.”

III. The Lord’s Prayer can curse us rather than bless us.

“I ask you, Father, deal with me as I deal with my brother or sister. They have ignored me and I have ignored you, but I simply cannot forgive their slights. Deal with me, Lord, as I do them.”

“I despise her, Lord, and the first opportunity I get to pay her back will give me great satisfaction. Deal with me, Lord, as I deal with her.”