Monday, February 11, 2013

The Lord's Prayer Part II - Talking to the Father about the Family, Part 29 of 61

TEXT: "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: Forgiveness is essential for health.

PURPOSE: To help listeners appreciate the benefits of a forgiving spirit.

Robert Lewis Stevenson, in his Picturesque Notes on Edinburgh, wrote about two unmarried sisters who shared a single room. The sisters had a falling out which Stevenson says was “on some point of controversial divinity”—that is, they disagreed about some aspect of theology. The argument was so bitter that they never spoke to each other again. There were no words, either kind or spiteful. Just silence.

You would think they would have separated, but nothing of the sort. Perhaps it was because of a lack of means, or of innate Scottish fear of scandal, that they continued to keep house together in a single room. A chalk line was drawn across the floor which separated the two domains. It divided the doorway and the fireplace so that each could go in and out and do her own cooking, without invading the territory of the other. So for years they coexisted in hateful silence. Their meals, their baths, their family visitors were exposed to the other’s unfriendly silence. And at night each went to bed listening to the heavy breathing of her enemy. Thus the two sisters (ostensibly daughters of the same church) continued the rest of their miserable lives.

I. Do you think anything like this could really take place?

Could an unforgiving spirit ever settle into a marriage? Or a family? Or a friendship? Or a church? What goes on inside the people who are involved?

Do you think that these ladies ever said the Lord’s Prayer in church? Do you think they ever prayed it?

Could you ever really pray the Lord’s Prayer and remain estranged?

II. Forgiveness is necessary, but it can be difficult.

If we cherish hatreds or nurse animosities or nurse our malice, we need to ask if we are Christians.

Forgiveness can be difficult. When we have been hurt by another person, we find the bitterness and hurt reoccurs even when we have forgiven the other person.

We are not talking about people struggling with forgiveness. The people who have no desire to forgive are the ones in soul-danger.

The fact that we continue to forgive even when we still feel the pain is a sign of God’s grace at work in our lives.