Aug 21, 2022
Christina Poss

Forgive us Our Debts as we Also Have Forgiven Our Debtors

Matt 6:9-13 "And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors." (ESV)

Forgiveness is like the bedrock of love. In a hate filled, sin cursed world, how can love thrive if it doesn't readily give grace? How can we be like Jesus if we don't forgive those who have wronged us? How can we accept His grace and turn around like the servant in Jesus' parable who was forgiven his debt and demand the debt be repaid to us?

Yet we struggle to forgive because our pride tells us that our sins are less significant than the people who have hurt us. We hold onto our resentments and bitterness because we believe we deserve to be treated better. But what if forgiveness looks like letting go?What if God's law of love comes from goodness and grace?

Recently, I had to do some heavy digging in my heart to forgive a friend who had hurt me deeply a couple years ago. I am no longer in contact with this friend, but I knew that I would be unable to fully grieve and move on with my life until I settled the act of forgiveness in my heart. So I wrote her a letter (one that will never be sent) to process my feelings, grief, pain, and bitterness. I got to the root of what held me back: I had failed to see my own shortcomings in her misunderstandings. I failed to see how just like her hurtful actions, I too have hurt others. And just like Jesus has forgiven me for every hateful thought and sinful action and hardness of heart, so too I am called to forgive everyone who hurts me. Just like the parable of the man who was forgiven of his large debt, when his servant came to him with another smaller debt, his duty was to forgive his servant just as his master forgave him. Because of Jesus paying my debt, I can no longer hold anyone else’s debts towards me over them. I am free to tell them they are forgiven. And when I think of what Jesus endured for my sake, I cannot say that I have been hurt and abandoned more so than Christ on the cross! Christ's sacrifice and love give us words and an image to put to what true forgiveness looks like. Love keeps no record of wrongs and doesn't choose to see others as their worst sins, just as Christ chose to set His love on us while we were His enemies.

"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres." (1 Corinthians 13: 4-7, NIV)

Forgiveness is heavy work, and I don't pretend to think that it might not take years to come to a full forgiveness in our hearts depending on how others have hurt us. Forgiveness does not immediately take away the pain or the grief. It is an act we choose to commit to in our hearts, even when we are in deeply tumultuous grief. I still experience the occasional sting of loss and pain when I think about how I was hurt by my friend and that happened years ago. But I can choose forgiveness in the midst of my pain.

That's why I think this little reminder is in the Lord's prayer: because Jesus is calling us to ask Him for help when it comes to forgiving others. We can only do that by bringing our pain and hurt to Him, and letting His forgiveness wash over our bitter hearts. Only God's love can right the wrongs. Only grace can cover sin. There is freedom in forgiveness, there is goodness in grace, there is life in love. Choose forgiveness, grace, and love today. It might not take away the emotional pain but it is the start of the process of removing the hate and the bitterness our hearts have such a tight grip on. There is freedom when we learn to let it go.

I am not a blank slate
I am not a pure white
Sinful rebellion my fate
Darkness hiding from the light

Do not look at my sins
Purity and love I am lacking
I don’t know where it begins
But I can’t send the hatred packing

I feel the weight
I feel the burden
Of a dark and dangerous soul
Like a broken dam with no control  

I am guilty before the Judge
Unable to fudge
My way out of this mess
No choice but to confess

Confess my murderous heart
That hates and speaks against
What God has consecrated 
But He blesses and gives grace

How can He forgive?
When all we’ve done is hate
Afraid to see ourselves
Our grimy, desperate state

Lord, I lack the faith!
To give myself and others the grace
That You freely bestow
So in love and holiness I can grow

How can I grow into
Something lovely and pure?
All I see in the mirror’s view
Is my cancerous sin with no cure

It isn’t just today
I’ve blown it my whole life
Failing to overcome
The hostility and strife 

I hate, I cannot love!
I hate my sin
I hate the sin inside of others 
I hate the paralyzing pit
Of a hardened, bitter heart

A prisoner to myself
Enslaved to the dark doubts
That keep me from the light
The light that love can right

Is there hope for all my hate?
Is there love that can redeem?
Love to save me from this weight,
From the chaos inside of me?

-Poem by Christina Poss

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