Anger and bitterness wrapped around the words tumbling carelessly out of my mouth, accusing an estranged friend how much pain and destruction he caused in my life many years ago. It was a self-righteous, merciless, and hypocritical response which I tried to justify in my prayers this morning. I should have pleaded with the Lord to forgive me for not forgiving this man.
I went for a walk in the blustering wind. "Who does he think I am that I would so easily forgive and forget! He tore my family to shreds, and he is asking me to forgive him? Never!"
A sudden rush of tears...I'm not crying, it's this brutal wind... but then came that dark image of me: an unrepentant criminal scurrying down an alley like a rat.
Despite the warmth of my kitchen, and coffee, and my classical music, I could not shake this intense guilt. I opened my Bible to Matthew. Christ is teaching His disciples about forgiveness. It was compelling and convicting...especially His answer to Peter. (Matthew 18:21-22)
The Lord's will is that we forgive as He forgives us, showing mercy to the ones who do us wrong, to the depth that He forgave us in Christ, "while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5:8
Commentary by Matthew Henry
"Those that come to God for the forgiveness of their sins against him, must make conscience of forgiving those who have offended them, else they curse themselves when they say the Lord's prayer. We must forbear, and forgive, and forget the affronts put upon us, and the wrongs done us; and this is a moral qualification for pardon and peace.
Lord, how oft shall my brother trespass against me, and I forgive him? Will it suffice to do it seven times?
- He thinks it is a great matter to forgive till seven times.
us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against
us. Those, and those only, may expect to be forgiven of God, who
forgive their brethren.
When we pray to God as our Father in heaven, we are taught to ask for the forgiveness of sins, as we forgive our debtors. Observe here:
- The duty of forgiving; we must
from our hearts forgive. Note, We do not forgive our
offending brother aright, nor acceptably, if we do not forgive from
the heart; for that is it that God looks at. No malice must be
harboured there, nor ill will to any person, one or another; no
projects of revenge must be hatched there, nor desires of it, as
there are in many who outwardly appear peaceable and reconciled. Yet
this is not enough; we must from the heart desire and seek the
welfare even of those that have offended us"