Monday, February 4, 2013, Part 1
“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: Mercy and forgiveness don’t ignore the consequences of the evil we commit.
PURPOSE: To help listeners realize what it means to receive forgiveness and extend forgiveness.
A friend who has been a minister in a church asked to talk with me. It was obvious he wasn’t thinking of a social visit. He told me that he had had an argument with his wife and he shouted, “God damn you! God damn you to hell!” What was worse, at the moment he said the words, he meant them.
He realized what he had said and the angry spirit in which he had spoken and asked his wife’s forgiveness. She assured him that she forgave him, but he was shocked at what he had said.
I. What could people have told this troubled man?
“It doesn’t matter. Everyone succumbs to temper from time to time. Forget it!”
“Everyone is human. You couldn’t help it. You were tired.”
How would you evaluate these responses?
II. How does the petition “Forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors,” confront this problem?
John Claypool called the approach of the prayer “serious hopefulness.”
William Muehl shared a story of a 5-year-old boy who had worked all Fall on a ceramic ashtray he wanted to give his parents for Christmas. On the last day before the holidays, after the traditional Christmas program, the boy was trying to run down the hall, put on his coat and wave goodbye to all his friends at the same time. In the process he slipped and fell and crushed the carefully wrapped package with a terrible breaking noise. There was a moment of silence, and then when the child realized what had happened, he broke into uncontrollable sobs. In an effort to comfort him, his father said, “Don’t cry, son, don’t cry. It really doesn’t make any difference.” His mother, wiser in things like this, said, “But it does matter. It matters a great deal!” Then she swept the child up in her arms and wept with him. But when that had passed, she stooped over gently and said, “Let’s pick up the pieces and see what we can make of what is left.”
This is what is implied in this request in the Lord’s Prayer.
We are to take evil seriously but not ultimately.
It says that something positive can come out of the mess we have made.
Our heavenly Father does not discount the seriousness of evil. He doesn’t shrug off the evil we have done nor does He want to destroy us. He wants us to restore our relations with Him so that we are able to deal with our neighbor’s relations with us in the same way.