This past weekend I was reading Matthew 6 when the Holy Spirit really opened my eyes to a way in which I was not currently living out the Gospel. Right beyond Jesus' example on how to pray are the words: "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" (6:14-15). In my heart was a harbor of bitterness over an instance that happened over 2 years ago that sadly was not even a sin issue. In my pride I just could not let it go. I'm not sure the struggle has completely ended but this passage was a huge help. I sat there a while really wondering why this one thing had such a grip on me. Ultimately my conclusion was my own arrogance.
As I finished looking at verses 14-15 and really examining my heart over this issue God revealed to me that I am not really good at forgiveness in general. I can back bite or gossip or silently let others sin issues puff up my own self-righteousness. But when it comes to being forgiven I know what I expect and often times, without maybe realizing it, know what I think I deserve. I thought about my heart and my sin for a while. I went back to Jesus' prayer because he talks about forgiveness in his prayer as well. "And forgive us our debts" easy enough. "As we also have forgiven our debtors." What? Any hope I still had just sank out the bottom of my soul. If I ask God to forgive me as I forgive others I am in a heap of trouble. But I found hope in the Gospel.
I stopped....I prayed....I asked the Lord to change my wicked, unforgiving, arrogant heart. I ask him to take away the bitterness that controlled me at times. I want to be able to say to the Lord, "Forgive me my debts as I have forgiven my debtors." I will never pray that perfectly while here on earth but the Lord knows my heart. He knows my desire is for that to be true. As the Gospel transforms my heart every day the fountain of forgiveness grows deeper and deeper in the heart. May we learn how much we have been forgiven so that in return we may forgive the greatest sins of others to us. May we see Jesus' great love for sinners like you and me and not even ponder forgiveness but forgive quickly and graciously. Maybe you're like me and just think you have been wronged when no sin has been committed but the bitterness rages on; ask God to take that bitterness and pride away.
The great part about seeing sin, as a believer, is knowing grace is greater than sin. May we all confess sin, repent and run back into the arms of our loving Father.
Grace upon grace,