Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.

We all think forgiveness is a great idea. We just think other people should try it instead. 

Let’s start with it from why forgiveness is so incredible. In “The Weight of Glory”, C.S. Lewis has an essay where he speaks of how when we often say “Forgive us our sins” to God, we really mean “Please excuse our sins.” There is a huge difference between the two and maybe one reason we don’t really appreciate forgiveness is that we do see it as excusing instead.

Now many times in a moment of weakness, some of us could succoumb to certain sins. Let me be clear on this also. If someone does succoumb to such a sin and asks forgiveness from the church, we need to forgive them and we need to keep in mind the biblical command of seventy times seven. However, we also need to be working with them to help them avoid that sin.

However, let us suppose we give in and confess to God. How many of us are prone also to explain why we did so? Lewis tells us that if there are circumstances that are extreme, God knows about them. He could not treat a sin for one the same as he would for another simply because of different temperaments. Why bother listing excuses though why God should just overlook the sin? Do we think we know one God doesn’t know?

God doesn’t overlook our sins though. We’d be grateful for just that if he did. However, he does something far better. He treats them as if they’re not there. He cleans the record entirely. He doesn’t hold a slate of our sins over our head and say “See? I’m just going to ignore this.” He takes the slate of our sins and dashes it to pieces.

It makes me wonder why I look at past sins as a reality that I still need to confess at times when I can picture God saying “Haven’t we already got past this?”

However, the hard part comes after God forgives us. We’re called to forgive others.

You mean if my ex who abused me asks for forgiveness, I’m to do it?

Yes.

You mean my father who left me and Mom alone with all of my siblings? If he comes to me for forgiveness, I’m to do it?

Yes.

You mean that drunk driver who killed my daughter in a car accident? If he comes to me for forgiveness, I’m to do it?

Yes.

You mean my ex-boyfriend who slept with my ex-best friend? If he comes to me for forgiveness, I’m to do it?

Yes.

Note this. I don’t think you should give forgiveness until they ask. I think you should be in a spirit of forgiveness though. Note also that forgiveness does not necessarily mean consequences of some sins go away. I think we should forgive someone in jail who repents, but that does not mean they don’t serve the time still. If that happened, we can be sure every prisoner in jail would “repent.” Keep in mind God did the same. He took away David’s sin, but David’s son still died. 

Still, you are to forgive. If you don’t forgive, it is to be seen as a sign that you haven’t received forgiveness. Yes. They did something terrible. Yes. They deserve to suffer. Yes. You have all right to be angry.

But couldn’t God say the same to you?

And didn’t he forgive you?

Then you ought to forgive one another.

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10 Responses to “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.”

  1. MichelleMu Says:

    Would you expand this concept just a bit:
    “Note this. I don’t think you should give forgiveness until they ask. I think you should be in a spirit of forgiveness though.”
    I had a conversation about this once and it turned out that we, the other correspondent and I, had different definitions of what forgiveness actually was.

  2. apologianick Says:

    Hi Michelle. I think the way to expand would be to say it is okay to have already forgiven them in your heart, and you should have, but I think it cheats them if you go to them and say “I forgive you.” Let them come to you and ask forgiveness and then let them know the joy of repentance as well.

  3. MichelleMu Says:

    OK, then we’re on the same page.

  4. MichelleMu Says:

    Nick, a year or so ago I read the book Amish Grace about remarkable actions of people who had suffered a great tragedy at the hands of a deranged gunman. Here is a quote from the book which kind of aligns with my thinking.

    “Amish forgiveness, like forgiveness in the outside world, can be offered regardless of whether an offender confesses, apologizes, or expresses remorse. Extended by the victim to the offender, it is an unconditional gift. Pardon, on the other hand, at least in the Christian tradition, requires repentance. The Amish believe that the church is responsible to God to hold member accountable to their baptismal vows. When a member transgresses the Ordnung, the church’s regulations, he or she is given several chances to repent. Upon making a confession and accepting discipline, a member receives pardon from the church and is restored to full fellowship. If the person does not confess, the Amish, drawing on particular New Testament texts, practice shunning, with the goal of restoring an offender to full fellowship. Although shunning may seem inconsistent with forgiveness, it logically follows from the Amish view of spiritual care.”

    I like the idea of forgiveness vs pardon. I think it helps me avoid two extremes: 1) just saying I forgive everyone, but not really meaning it, or 2) having an excuse not to forgive because the guilty person hasn’t asked for it yet.

    Thanks,
    Michelle

  5. V.E.G. Says:

    Some one has to forgive Norman Wesley Bagley and Theodore Robert Eshom, the men who was involved in a collision that claimed all lives.

  6. V.E.G. Says:

    Jeff Nemec (man of Czech and Slovakian origin) forgave the gunman, but the gunman never asked for forgiveness due to this death.

  7. V.E.G. Says:

    Brent Doonan forgive the gunman. Doonan himself is the extremely distant cousin of Navy Author, Dewey Whitley Lambdin!

  8. V.E.G. Says:

    I hope Roman Polanski should forgive the Uncle of William Patrick Stuart-Houston. I hope Alexander, Louis, and Brian Stuart-Houston should apologize to Roman Polanski’s ancestors for there great-uncle’s actions in Poland.

    • John McGranahan Says:

      Why should Alexander, Louis, and Brian Stuart-Houston (a.k.a. Hitler) apologize for the actions of their great-uncle (Adolph Hitler). One does not pick and choose the family one is born into. Additionally, all of them were born after WWII, after the great-uncle’s death. That they carry the name “Hitler”, though they live under another name, is enough of a burden to carry for something they had had no part in. Leave these men alone; let them live out their lives; the past is not their fault nor their responsibility. Let them alone!

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