Each time we pray what Jesus taught his disciples to pray, we ask God to, “forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors” (Mt 6:12). We’re so familiar with this prayer that we may pray that line quickly, not considering how much forgiveness we need.
Confession is rarely our favorite part of the worship service, and it’s tempting to gloss over that line of the prayer. Isaac Watts wanted us to think hard about the forgiveness we ask for when he wrote this verse in the favorite hymn, Alas! And Did My Savior Bleed: “But drops of grief can ne’er repay the debt of love I owe.”
The very things God asks us to do, particularly offering forgiveness, can be so difficult. But we don’t do these things in our own strength. In order to forgive, we draw on the forgiveness that God provides for us.
Forgiveness flows from one part of the sentence to the next. As we forgive, we experience forgiveness. As we receive God’s grace, we learn to share it. We learn to turn the other cheek, share what we have, and love those who do not love us by walking with Christ, who shows us how to do those things.
When I think of the life that Christ lived for us, those difficult tasks of following Jesus feel more doable.
By forgiving us, God equips us to forgive. As Jesus says, “From everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required; and from the one to whom much has been entrusted, even more will be demanded” (Luke 12:48). By forgiving us, God equips us to forgive.
When you find forgiveness difficult, what Scripture or hymn helps you to look past the offense and move towards forgiveness?
God, help us to see how much grace you have given to us, so that we will share what we’ve received from you. Amen.