Peninsula Community Church
June 12, 2011
Sermon on the Mount – Forgive Us Our Debts
Text: And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
It should be noted that this phrase should not be detached from the phrase before it. Jesus says that we should pray that God would provide our daily bread but we should also pray that our sins be forgiven.
It appears that from a precursory reading of this passage that what Christ is saying is that if we don’t forgive others we will not be forgiven. But if that is the truth then it diminishes the work of the cross in our lives, because while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. What Jesus is communicating is that we must have the same attitude as Christ in that we are willing to forgive all who have offended us or wounded us.
Forgiveness is a major theme throughout the ministry of Jesus. The passage in Matthew 6:14-15 is a continuation of Matthew 6:12. It is as if Jesus finishes the prayer and then has an addendum to the prayer. He states, 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.
Jesus does not imply that His forgiveness is conditional but God’s forgiveness is founded in His grace. The basis of this request is that we can extend forgiveness to others in the same way that God extends forgiveness to us.
There is nothing that God does not forgive nor is there anything beyond his ability to reconcile in our lives. What is being said here is that the same power that God uses to forgive us can be manifested in us to forgive others.
One of the lessons learned from this passage is that to truly forgive we must attempt to see things from another’s point of view by having mercy on others. The idea of forgiveness here is the idea that one must have mercy on others as God has had mercy on us. The idea of mercy is a weak concept in our language. It relates more to having pity on another rather than just “giving someone a break” as we would interpret mercy.
An unwillingness to forgive is often based in pride that will not let us free the other person from the wrongs committed. To fully forgive, we must deal with the pride resident in all of us. As a result pride keeps us from forgiving others and from forgiving ourselves. When pride is resident, we are slow to forgive.
This is the reason that pride is such an issue for us in regards to forgiveness. When pride is resident we fail to recognize the grace and mercy God has bestowed upon us by His work on the cross.
To acknowledge ones’ need for forgiveness is to renounce the human demand to control one’s own life and fate. By confessing our sins we give up control.
The problem with not forgiving others is that we allow them to control our thinking, our attitudes and our actions. The problem with not forgiving others is that a lack of forgiveness causes the other person to have power over us and in essence control us. They control our thinking, they control our attitude and they control our actions because we allow them to take charge over us.
- Is not a feeling.
- Is not forgetting.
- Is not excusing or justifying.
- Is a decision.
Forgiveness is not a feeling. It is an act of the will. True forgiveness is a series of decisions that we will call on God to change our hearts and to refuse to not talk about what someone has done against us.
Forgiveness is not forgetting. The old adage of “Forgive and forget” is a misnomer because the reality is that while we can forgive we do not necessarily forget what one have done to us or against us. When God says that He forgets our sins what is meant by this is that He no longer holds that sin or wrong against us. Forgetting is a passive process while forgiveness is an active choice of the will.
Forgiveness is not excusing or justifying. By excusing the wrong means that the real issues are not dealt with and that they will tend to be repeated.
Forgiveness is a decision. To forgive means that we release the other person from the liability to suffer punishment or penalty. The Greek word Aphiemi is translated to let go, release or remit. When someone hurts us we have one of two choices. We can forgive them or we can continue to collect on the debt of the wrong or the sin committed. We extract payments from others in many different ways:
- Withholding forgiveness
- Dwelling on the wrong
- Being cold and aloof
- Giving up on the relationship
- Inflicting emotional pain
- Lashing back
- Seeking revenge
We can’t do this alone. To fully understand forgiveness we must recognize that we cannot do it alone. It is impossible to truly forgive others in your own strength. Without the cleansing and healing power of Christ at work in us we will not be able to forgive others in the way God intended. The only way to walk in forgiveness is to recognize that you are powerless to forgive anyone in your own strength and that you need Christ to come and change your heart.
Application: We must forgive others by recognizing God’s mercy and grace in our life.