“Pray then like this: 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 also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” Matthew 6:9-15
Q. 194 What do we pray for in the fifth petition?
A. “...we are emboldened to ask, and encouraged to expect forgiveness, when we have this testimony in ourselves; that we from the heart forgive others their offenses.”
Forgiveness = because of the glory and wonder of the cross, I relinquish my perceived right to hurt others in response to the way they have hurt me. It is refusing to retaliate while pursuing kindness.
Forgiving others is vitally important because:
1. It shows forth the authenticity of my faith in Christ. UNFORGIVING PEOPLE DO NOT GO TO HEAVEN. Merciless people will not be shown mercy. (Matthew 5:7)
2. Our joy and usefulness as believers are the balance. Everyday I choose to root out bitterness and nurture grace (There is a difference between “struggling to forgive” and the sullen and unyielding state of “I am going to get even…”). (James 3:15)“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one
another, as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32
3. The world is watching to see if our testimony is true and strong.
General Principles Regarding Forgiveness
1. “Abide hard by the cross and search the mystery of his wounds” (Spurgeon). Rejoice in the goodness of sins forgiven. The abiding by the cross will deal with the daily irritants and lead to a life of forbearance.
“See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but
always seek to do good to one another and to
everyone.” 1 Thessalonians 5:15
2. Forgiveness is costly; therefore, I need the help of friends who rejoice in the grace filled imputed righteousness of Jesus. (Matthew 18: 21-35)
3. Forgiveness does not allow the root of bitterness to take over our lives.
“Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness
without which no one will see the Lord.
"See to it that
no one fails to obtain the grace of God, that no “root of
bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many
become defiled.” Hebrews 12:14-15
4. In forgiveness, we renounce personal vendettas and trust in the justice of Abba Father.
“Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what
is honorable in the sight of all. 18 If possible, so far as it
depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never
avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for
it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the
Lord.’” Romans 12:17-19
“For he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do
wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain.
For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out
God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.” Romans 13:4
5. The triune God esteems (loves) a forgiving person, while Satan delights in an angry bitter unforgiving person. (2 Corinthians 2:10-11)
1. What does it mean to “abide hard by the cross and search the mystery of his wounds”?
2. How does understanding the mercy of God lead to a life of forbearance as we deal with the daily irritants of life?
3. What is the difference between a friend who is like Jezebel (1 Kings 21) versus a friend who is like Abigail (1 Samuel 25)?
4. How do we root bitterness out of our lives?
5. What is the difference between trusting the justice of God and personal vendettas?
6. Why does the devil love extremes in the area of addressing sin and being unforgiving (1 Corinthians 5:1-2; 2 Corinthians 2:11-12)?