[CF Devotionals] 2007-09-15 - The Prayers of Christ

#10 ~ The Lord's Prayer, cont'd.

Here we come upon potentially another scary part of what is known as "The Lord's Prayer."

Matthew 6:14-15 For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

So if we haven't forgiven people who have caused us grief, made our jobs harder, been jealous of us, embarrassed us, made false assumptions - or any other offense, our own sins won't be forgiven. Strong words!

Does this mean acting like nothing happened, with no changes in relationship, if something serious is involved? Absolutely not! Not only would this be dishonest, but it wouldn't be edifying for the offender, either. If there are never any consequences, people will just continue to commit the same sins, and usually "graduate" to worse ones. Loving parents don't just let their children get away with whatever they want; the parents realize that in order to grow into responsible and considerate human beings, there must be consequences if they commit serious or repeated offenses.

Some people mistakenly equate love and forgiveness with not holding an offender responsible, but that's not God's kind of love. Jesus didn't give the adulterous woman a "carte blanche" to do whatever she wanted, knowing she'd always be forgiven; rather, He told her to go and "sin no more." And as Romans 13 points out, the authorities are given to us by God for the discipline and punishment of wrongdoers.

When you follow through the thought process, you can see how truly illogical that would be, anyway, to allow unrepentant people to "get away with" continuous offenses. To allow someone to continue in sin, and do worse and worse - it's puzzling how anyone could believe God would condone that, when His goal and plan are that we live holy lives. We do need to differentiate between vengeance and responsibility; they are not the same at all. For example, the Bible doesn't condone vigilantism; as mentioned previously, the police and court system are there to fulfill the work of holding lawbreakers responsible.

But having explained all that, here are a few principles:

  1. In our personal relationships with those who have sinned against us, we are to still treat them with love - praying for them, helping them to take responsibility for their lives, carefully and responsibly giving them material assistance such as canned goods if they have basic physical needs such as food etc.

  2. And by the way, this is unconditional. It's a common misbelief, but nowhere does the Bible say that we are to forgive people "if they say they are sorry." Forgiveness should happen, irregardless of whether there is ever an apology. God provided for our forgiveness before we ever sinned, much less repented.

Bottom line: If we don't forgive others, we will put a roadblock between ourselves and our Heavenly Father. And it will benefit us spiritually, emotionally and often physically. I will leave you with a quote that I find poignant. Unfortunately, I don't know the author's name, but it goes something like that:

I forgave to set the prisoner free,
Only to find that the prisoner was me.

Comments or Questions?
Jan

[email jan] cfdevpray@juno.com
http://www.cfdevotionals.org