When Jesus taught his disciples how to pray, He used one phrase that makes me squirm uncomfortably.
and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
Am I really supposed to ask God to forgive me the same way I forgive others? Considering my skills as a forgiver, that is a request I would never want to make.
Just last week, I found myself re-battling a wound someone had inflicted over a year ago. I felt bitterness, as though the offense had happened earlier that day. Yet a year ago, when it actually happened, I had decided to forgive.
Why does my "forgiveness" allow my resentment to lie dormant for extended periods of time, only to burst out of the ground like some hideous weed? I sprayed the weed-killer last year. My sidewalk cracks have been bare and now, for no apparent reason, this monster has burst out once again.
If God forgives me like I forgive others, I'm done for. That would mean a week or a year or a decade after my conversion, He would take it all back on a whim and leave me out in the cold.
Thank God, His forgiveness is forever. No one can snatch me out of His hand. I can't lose my salvation.
But still. He chose to use this phraseology. He chose to make my forgiveness of others a condition for His forgiveness of me. Why?
"Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you."
No matter what, God's forgiveness comes first. God's forgiveness is best. He will always "one-up" me in whatever forgiveness I offer to others.
But when I forgive, I represent the gospel. I forgive because He did! So I want to forgive like He did.
Please, Lord, make me a faithful forgiver, so that I show the nature of Your love.