“Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” (Matthew 6:12)
Once we receive the fullness of God’s forgiveness, the real adventure is just beginning. God doesn’t forgive our sins just so we can be forgiven – forgiveness is the open door to a whole new world of relationship with God. Our sins are no longer a barrier between us and God – and His desire is to take us into His Own Household as His Own child (and teach us of the ways of the King!).
With forgiveness comes some responsibilities. There are primarily two things that God is seeking from us… now that we belong to Him.
The first is an attitude of profound gratitude. That we live our lives in a constant disposition of thanksgiving. For what God has done for us, is doing for us, will do for us. There is much to be learned here, but we will speak more of this at another time.
Today’s focus is our second main responsibility. God is seeking that we become living examples of prolific grace.
For God, it is simple… He has given us His unlimited and undeserved grace – we should give grace to others just as we have received from Him.
When we think about it, this is the area that affords us the greatest opportunity for the testimony of God’s love for us. We have all been hurt by other people. In some cases, we have even done harm to ourselves. Our injuries can become a deep source of great and chronic pain for our souls.
That’s why Jesus talked about the necessity of forgiving our “debtors.” The word for “debtors” in the original language carries the connotations of someone who has “caused an offense.” Something has been done to injure us, and because of that injury, we are “owed” something in return. They owe us an apology. Or they owe us reparation for something of ours that they carelessly broke. Or they owe us restitution for something they have taken from us. In extreme cases, they may owe us their lives, because they have willfully taken a loved one from us.
The human thing to do is to keep a running account of all our hurts – and a list of those people who have hurt us. This is only natural. No one can blame you for holding a grudge against someone whose selfishness or carelessness has hurt you.
But God has not forgiven us so we could continue to live a natural kind of life. He has forgiven us to that we can demonstrate a divine kind of life. He has poured out His love to us so that He might pour out His love through us.
And what better, more powerful, way than to extend the manner of grace (we have received) to those who are our “debtors.” There are few things more powerful in this life than grace given freely to the undeserving.
This is the entire point of Jesus’ parable of the unforgiving servant (Matt. 18:23-35)
You know the story… a king seeks to “settle accounts” with his servants and one is brought before him who owes an unfathomable amount. Unable to pay, the servant receives a terrible judgment. The servant begs for more time – and the king does the unthinkable. He has pity on his servant and forgives the entire debt!
But that’s not the end of the story. The forgiven servant goes out and harasses a fellow servant who owes him a paltry amount. Unable to pay, he has the fellow servant thrown in jail.
The king hears about this… and unleashes his terrible anger at the unforgiving servant. His debt is restored to him and he is thrown in prison until he can repay the whole debt (no chance of that!).
The lesson of the story is summed up in the king’s words: “Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?” (Matthew 18:33)
Jesus’ moral is obvious. We have each received forgiveness of a debt we could never repay. But God has graciously forgiven us our entire debt. All He asks, in return, is that we go out and forgive our own personal “debtors.”
What God seeks from us is that we live our lives as constant examples of His grace.
Prayer Focus: God, make me aware of any unforgiveness in my heart… and lead me to be a vessel of Your immense grace — just as You poured out Your grace upon me.