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The Attitude of Forgiveness
In the Lord's Prayer, we pray, "Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors." Forgive us the wrongs we have done in so far as we forgive those who have wronged us. Lord Jesus, you taught us that, "If ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses" (Matt. 6: 14-15). We realize then that what you are saying, Lord, is that the people who believe on you are a forgiven people, and they show that they are forgiven by forgiving. And the opposite is true: Those who do not forgive have nothing to do with you.
This is a hard lesson, Lord. If we say, "I will never forgive so-and-so for what he or she did to me," and then turn to you and pray this petition of the Lord's Prayer, then what we are asking is that you will not forgive us. If we come to you with hardness of heart against other people, and pray this prayer, then what we are saying, O Lord, is that you should harden your heart against us. That is a scary thought. That shows us the absolute need for us to be a forgiving people.
Give us then, Lord, THREE ATTITUDES of forgiveness:
1. Help us to be an UNDERSTANDING people. If we understand why others do the things they do, if we understand why they are impolite or insensitive or suspicious, if we understand their agony and turmoil, it makes it easier for us to forgive.
2. Help us to be a FORGETTING people. So long as we brood upon a slight or injury, we will not forgive. We sometimes say, "I cannot forget what so-and-so did to me." This is a dangerous saying, for you may say to us, Lord, "I will not forget your sins either." We need to learn to forget the bad and dwell upon the good, to put unpleasant things behind us and go on to better things.
3. Help us to be a LOVING people. We must recognize that the kind of love that Jesus taught us is a love that always seeks what is best for others, no matter what they do to us and no matter how they treat us. After all, Lord, you have loved us and we have not done much for you and have not treated you well. Thus, we should be careful in setting conditions on when and how we will love others, lest you, O Lord, should set conditions.
Help us then to be loving, forgetting, understanding, even as you have loved us and understood us and forgotten our sins. Help us, Lord, to be your people, which means that we will be a forgiving people. Amen.