Sitting with the Shepherd
"For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. (Matthew 6:14-15 NKJV)
Trespasses can be defined as offences or violations of moral standards, and they can be committed against men or God. There is a popular sign that reads, "Trespassers will be shot. Survivors will be prosecuted." While not many would actually carry out a threat like that, people identify with the words because they reflect the attitude of their hearts. What Jesus is saying here is that since we have been forgiven so much by God already, it is wrong to condemn others who are fallible human beings like ourselves. In fact one who is unable to forgive probably doesn't truly understand how much they have been forgiven by God. The forgiveness spoken of here is relational rather than judicial. We received judicial forgiveness when we received Christ as our Savior and nothing we can do or say can rescind that. But when we hold a grudge against another human being the consequences are relational in that they impact our relationship with our Father. How can we say we love God and hate our brothers and sisters who are His children? To forgive is not to say the offense never happened, it is just saying we are giving up our right to get even. To accomplish that we must rely not on our own strength but on God's empowering grace. Jesus is reminding us here of our right to choose our actions, therefore determining the consequences we will incur.
"Forgiveness means not merely that I am saved from hell and made right for heaven (no man would accept forgiveness on such a level); forgiveness means that I am forgiven into a recreated relationship, into identification with God in Christ. The miracle of Redemption is that God turns me, the unholy one, into the standard of Himself, the Holy One, by putting into me a new disposition, the disposition of Jesus Christ."
Chambers, O. (1986). My utmost for his highest: Selections for the year. Grand Rapids, MI: Oswald Chambers Publications; Marshall Pickering.
Questions for Personal Reflection or Discussion
1. What are the hardest offenses for you to forgive?
2. When you consider the forgiveness that God provided for you at the cross, which sins are you the most grateful to have been forgiven for?
3. Is there anyone whom you have neglected to forgive and are you willing to do so now in gratitude to Your Father for His forgiveness.
My Father in heaven to Whom I cry Abba, blessed be Your Holy Name. You have washed away the filth of my iniquities and forgiven all of my offences at a great cost to Yourself. Thank You for Your amazing grace and grant that grace to me in forgiving _______________. Thank you that I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me. Amen