Monday, March 14, 2011

Forgiveness is a dish best served.....

I have been pondering the Lord's Prayer in Matthew.

Matthew 6:9-15 Pray like this: Our Father in heaven, may your name be honored. 10 May your Kingdom come soon. May your will be done here on earth, just as it is in heaven. 11 Give us our food for today, 12 and forgive us our sins, just as we have forgiven those who have sinned against us. 13 And don't let us yield to temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. 14 "If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. 15 But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.

While I find many parts of this prayer to be challenging at times, forgiveness seems to be emphasized in this section of Scripture. How is it that God forgiving us is dependent upon us forgiving others?

The picture I have of unforgiveness is Marley from the Christmas Carol. He drudges through eternity tethered to all his wrongs. Unforgiveness tethers us to all our pains and all the wrongs done to us. We are held back in relationships, in trust, in our attitude, in our life by withholding forgiveness from others. Our pain, our recounting the wrongs done to us became walls between us and other people. It can become a weapon to hurt others before they can hurt us. Unforgiveness is a poison which infects us and those around us. And perhaps this is why God forgiving us depends on us forgiving others.
God's forgiveness is ever flowing. His mercy is new every morning. But when we are too busy dragging our hurts around with us, building walls around ourselves, and using our pain as an excuse or a weapon, we create a barrier from experiencing God's forgiveness. It is like God's forgiveness is a river and our unforgiveness is the sandbags to keep ourselves dry.
Perhaps we cannot experience God's forgiveness when we withhold forgivenss because forgiveness is best experienced in community. God chooses human beings to be the tangible conduit of forgiveness. When we withhold forgiveness, we keep others from experiencing God's pardon completely in their lives. Forgiveness is best served in community and best experienced in community.

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