Sitting at the Feet of Yeshua
We continue in our exploration of the Disciple’s prayer, but we will take the petitions out of order to concentrate on the issue of forgiveness.
“Forgive us what we have done wrong, as we too have forgiven those who have wronged us.” Yeshua goes on to say, “For if you forgive others their offenses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if you do not forgive others their offenses, your heavenly Father will not forgive yours.” (Matthew 6:12,14-15) [We’ll come back to verse 13 in my next post.]
God wants us to have a forgiving attitude toward others. Yeshua often emphasized the importance of forgiveness in His parables (see Matthew 18:21-35). Verse 12 is a petition for the needs of our souls.
Before we can honestly pray this petition of the Disciple’s Prayer, we must realize that we need to pray it. Before we can pray this petition, we must have a sense of our own sin.
When we see the reality of sin, we come to see that it is a universal disease in which every person is involved. This is a petition of the Disciple’s Prayer, which every one of us needs to pray.
Not only do we need to realize that we need to pray this petition of the Disciple’s Prayer; we also need to realize what we are doing when we pray it. Of all petitions of the Disciple’s Prayer, this is the most frightening.
“Forgive us what we have done wrong, as we too have forgiven those who have wronged us.” The literal meaning is: “Forgive us our sins in proportion to those sins we have forgiven that were committed against us.” In Matthew 6:14-15, Yeshua says in the plainest possible language that if we forgive others, God will forgive us; but if we refuse to forgive others, God will refuse to forgive us. It’s quite clear that if we pray this petition with an unhealed heart or an unsettled quarrel in our lives, we are asking God not to forgive us.
If we say, “I will never forgive so-and-so for what he or she has done to me,” if we say, “I will never forget what so-and-so did to me,” and then go and take this petition on our lips, we are quite deliberately asking God not to forgive us. Our forgiveness of each other and God’s forgiveness of us cannot be separated; they are interlinked and interdependent. Let’s be honest here, if we really, really think about what we are saying when we take this petition on our lips, there would be times when we would not dare utter it.
If we are to have this kind of forgiveness in our lives, three things are necessary.
- We must learn to understand. There is always a reason why a person does something. If he is rude and cross-tempered, maybe he is worried or in pain. If he treats us with suspicion and dislike, maybe he has misunderstood, or has been misinformed about something we have said or done. Maybe his temperament is such that life is difficult and human relations are a problem for him. Forgiveness would be very much easier for us, if we tried to understand before we allowed ourselves to condemn.
- We must learn to forget. So long as we brood upon a slight or an injury, there is no hope that we will forgive. We so often say, “I just can’t forget what so-and-so did to me,” or “I will never forget how I was treated by such-and-such a person or in such-and-such a place.” These are dangerous sayings, because we can in the end make it humanly impossible for us to forget. We can print the memory indelibly upon our minds. We may not be able to always forget, but by His grace and inner healing, we can erase the emotional baggage that is tied to the remembrance.
- We must learn to love. We have already seen that Messianic love, agape, is that unconquerable benevolence, that undefeatable good-will, which will never seek anything but the highest good of others, no matter what they do to us, and no matter how they treat us. That love can come to us only when Yeshua, who is that love, comes to dwell within our hearts – and He cannot come unless we invite Him.
To be forgiven we must forgive and that is a condition of forgiveness, which only the power of Messiah can enable us to fulfill.
When we pray, we need to ask God to search our hearts and reveal any sin. We need to confess it. We need to ask God to reveal anyone who we have not forgiven. We need to forgive them…for what they did, said, how we allowed them to make us feel, the effect of their sin on our life, and any other harmful impact of their sin.
In my next post, we will wrap up the Disciple’s Prayer by returning to examine the petition in Matthew 6:13.