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Sunday, July 17, 2016

Forgiveness: Coming of God's Kingdom

Our Father, who is in heaven: May your name be kept holy. May your kingdom come. May your will be done, as in heaven, so also on earth. Give us this day our life-sustaining bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation. But free us from evil. Amen.
Matthew 6:14-15 (CPDV)

A careful look at the Lord's prayer shows that Jesus uses a Hebrew poetic technique called Parallelism where the succeeding verse or thought echoes the previous verse or thought. When he opens with Our Father, who is in heaven, the next thought, may your name be kept holy parallels it which indicates there is no other God except the One who is in heaven.

The next thought: May your kingdom come has the same thought as May your will be done, as in heaven, so also on earth. In heaven, God’s will is always done. The kingdom of God comes when God’s will is done here on earth. It comes to our lives when his will is done in our lives.

The next verses are petitions that show how God’s kingdom comes on earth. God provides for our needs. God forgives our debts if we will forgive our debtors. his kingdom comes when God delivers us from temptation and frees us from evil.

All these petitions depend on God, except one: God provides for the daily bread. God delivers from temptation and God frees us from evil. The forgiveness of our sins, depends on how we deal with those who have sinned against us. How do we forgive those who sin against us, especially that person who has done a lot of damage or even irreparable damage to us?

If we look at the prayer, Jesus talks of forgiving debts. When a debt is forgiven, payment is not demanded because the debt is canceled. The debtor owes nothing and is free to go. Similarly, when Jesus commands us to forgive the sins of our enemies, he tells (actually commands) us to wave our right for payment. This does not mean we do not seek  justice when we can. God does not call us to be doormats. We stand up against evil when we can. When we come to situations where we cannot obtain justice, we turn to God for justice and forgive those who have sinned against us. This cannot be done when we base our decisions on our emotions or feelings towards the one who has hurt us.

Forgiveness is based on love which is a choice and not an emotion. We can love a person without feeling good towards them. Jesus commands us to love our enemies. He did not command us to like them. When we forgive, we make a choice out of love, no matter how painful or difficult it is. We know we have forgiven a person when we can pray that God will bless them abundantly. It will be very difficult to pray this at first but with God's grace, we can. God will not tell us to do something if he will not give us the grace to do it. We may even have to force ourselves to pray this, but this is the command Jesus gives and this is the way his kingdom comes to our lives.

As we forgive others, we need to remember to forgive ourselves also. We may have done things that we regret. The good news is God has forgiven us and he has the power to make all things new.

Lord, I forgive that specific person who has hurt me most. I release them from their debt and I forgive them. Bless that person abundantly Lord. I also pray I may forgive myself. Heal me Lord, you are my Redeemer and Savior. Thank you Lord for the healing.

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