I am one of those people who needs to have an editor- I tend to ramble… too bad you can’t hire editors to speak for you– they only deal in written words!Today- Lent has lead me to “pray for a forgiving heart” The scripture comes from Jesus’ warning to those who tend to “orate” in prayer and pray as if it were a theatrical production.. he has helped us to ‘edit” our prayers- not to limit us,, but to show us what really matters.
Matthew 6: 9-13
7And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. 8Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
9“This, then, is how you should pray:
” ‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
10your kingdom come,
your will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
11Give us today our daily bread.
12Forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.[a]‘
14For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.
The debts here- are not economic debts. They are debts of the heart. Debts incurred through sin. Sin is simply- missing the mark. Something we are each prone to do because of our own imperfection. There is no bailout or stimulus package that can provide relief- only forgiveness.
The last part of this scripture holds a warning- we are forgiven.. and so we MUST forgive others. God’s only expectation is that we don’t hoarde forgiveness to ourselves.. but freely share it with those who sin against us.
This is hard- people have hurt me… I don’t WANT to forgive them.. I want to punish them. I doubt I’m the only one who struggles with those feelings. Is Jesus telling me not to be angry? Is Jesus telling me not to be hurt? Is he telling me to forget what people have done?
It doesn’t seem so. I up looked Forgiveness. It isn’t a directive on feelings- it’s a directive on actions. The connotations mean “to set down one’s right to retaliate” . There are lots of ways to retaliate when someone sins.. passive agressive ways.. agressive ways… no matter how subtle- they must be set aside. I have to choose not to use them.
Why should I? People aren’t fair. People do things that are WRONG. Why should I have to forgive? The answer is simple: Because I HAVE BEEN FORGIVEN. Jesus paid the ultimate price for my sin.. and in return, I am only requested to set down my right to retaliate. I am asked to forgive. Isn’t that the least I can do? It may be the least- but it’s also: hard. I’ll need His help.
Today- I’m praying for a forgiving heart. But first- I’m thanking Him for forgiving me- so very much. Today- Into my Lenten Journey’s bag goes the simple prayer that Jesus offered me… the “Our Father” of generations of followers before me.. that is my prayer.