CBF Elder Devotion
Matthew 6:12 “Forgive us our trespasses as forgive those who have trespassed against us.
As part of the “Lord’s Prayer”, many of us may mention this passage almost automatically and not give much thought to what it actually says. If we pay some attention on what we are really asking God here, however, at best it is puzzling and at worst is frightening. Consider;
I Jn 1:8-9 “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” Here John gives us God’s standard for forgiveness; generous indeed. Jesus, however, in His model prayer, seems to have us ask God to change the rules on us. Why?? Why should we ask God to substitute His generous standard for forgiveness with ours, which stems from our fallen and sinful nature? This seems to not only fly in the face of reason, but is scary as well. What is going on???
Perhaps, however, the lesson here is that Jesus would have us pray to commit ourselves to trust God to work in us to really love others and generously forgive them many times over. This part of His “Lord’s Prayer” suggests that we should be willing to have God forgive us according to our forgiving others, and implies a standard where if I forgive little I am willing to accept little, and as I forgive much I can be assured that God is working in me and I’ll be forgiven a lot.
To accomplish this, however, demands that I let Him rule in me as His new creation (2Cor 5:17-19 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.”), and transform me into His likeness (Rom 12:2 “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is; his good, pleasing and perfect will.”)
At first glance, however, this seems like a very frightening request, for I’m asking God to suspend His standard of mercy and forgiveness to me, and impose my own. This is dangerous UNLESS I can change to be more like God, and let His standards become my standards. In this context, if we truly love others, we can forgive them on the same basis God forgives us. Notice that this part of Jesus’ prayer is totally consistent with and supports what He taught in Jn 13:34-35 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” and in 1John 4:20-21 “If anyone says, I love God, yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen, and He has given us this command; Whoever loves God must also love his brother.” In summary, this part of Jesus’ model prayer really says “Lord, let me grow to be the type of person where this really takes hold – where your standards and mine com more closely together!”
This part of the prayer is subtle. Yes it does ask for forgiveness, but more importantly it asks God , our Father, to work in us continually toward our spiritual transformation
and growth and that is powerful!!!!
Submitted by Elder James Shedd