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In Focus: Forgiveness (Matthew 6:12)

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So Jesus continues on with his thought. Just as daily we ask for the bread that sustains us, we need to keep a short account of the wrongs we need to confess to God. Each one of our prayers should be lined with the confession of sin in our heart. But the idea didn't stop there, Jesus says that we are to forgive in the manner of which we were forgiven. Forgiveness may cost us something but the recipient nothing. However the benefit to the Kingdom of Jesus Christ outweighs it all. Here are the familiar words of Jesus from Matthew 6:12.

Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.

I was going to write a clever story about forgiveness (as I have needed it a time or two in my life). But none illustrate the measure of forgiveness we receive from the Father and the call for us to forgive in response than the story Jesus tells in Matthew 18. So instead of paraphrasing, read what Jesus had to say on forgiveness.

21Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?"

22Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.[f]

23"Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand talents[g] was brought to him. 25Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.

26"The servant fell on his knees before him. 'Be patient with me,' he begged, 'and I will pay back everything.' 27The servant's master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.

28"But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii.[h] He grabbed him and began to choke him. 'Pay back what you owe me!' he demanded.

29"His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, 'Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.'

30"But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. 31When the other servants saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed and went and told their master everything that had happened.

32"Then the master called the servant in. 'You wicked servant,' he said, 'I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. 33Shouldn't you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?' 34In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.

35"This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart."

The subject of forgiveness is often a difficult one. Relationships end on a daily basis because of the inability to forgive. As a follower of Christ, that should not be how we are looked upon. The very opposite is true. We are to be known, to be remembered for our ability to forgive others. Ephesians 5:2 tells us that as we are imitators of God, we are to live a life of love. I Corinthians 13 defines what that life of love would look like. Verse 5 says that love is not easily angered and that it keeps no record of wrongs.

So quite simply, if we truly want to follow Jesus Christ, we MUST forgive as He has forgiven us. End of story.

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