If you forgive others the wrongs they have done to you, your Father in heaven will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive the wrongs you have done.
[This is a continuation of Jesus’ teaching about proper performance of religious duties. He is explaining to his disciples how they can be “more faithful than the teachers of the Law and the Pharisees in doing what God requires.” (See Day 23)].
It’s safe to assume, based on this repetition, this reiteration, that forgiveness is what Jesus considers to be the most important part of the Lord’s Prayer (See Day 42). “Forgive us the wrongs we have done, as we forgive the wrongs that others have done to us.” Jesus says, “Ahem….in case you just glossed over that forgiveness part…here it is again. And I’m going to keep saying it again and again until you get it, folks.”
I think if he were typing this out today he would put it in bold type, all caps. He clearly wants to make sure we understand this truth. You cannot receive what you are unwilling to give.
Jesus says that forgiveness must start with me. I must kick it off. It then flows from person to person and then from God back to us. Like “the wave” at a sporting event. When I hold a grudge I creates a blockage, and God’s love and forgiveness can’t break through. I stop the wave. I block his love and forgiveness with my own bitterness and hubris. I may have originally been wronged, but now I am the problem.
Jesus says that if I choose to dwell in the past and wallow in my own anger and misery, then I am not going to be in a proper frame of mind to receive the forgiveness, comfort, freedom, or any of the other good things that God freely offers. I am stuck. I am blocked. And it will continue get worse until I let it go. It’s like an intestinal blockage – no movement, no improvement.
This is the way I see it…the Kingdom of God is like a party. (I got this analogy from pastor and author Tony Campolo). There is sharing, laughter, and good will. There is joy and peace and happiness and fun. Love flows like a river from God’s heart, along with forgiveness, freedom, and abundance.
When I try to step into the Kingdom party with unforgiveness or grudges or anger or selfishness I am not in a proper party mood. I am like a petulant child. I walk in the door and bring everybody down. I am dour. I am a party pooper. I am a Debbie Downer. You know Debbie Downer, that Saturday Night Live character who has something bad to say about everything. She’s the one who always shuts the party down.
But unlike those Saturday Night Live parties that are ruined by Debbie Downer, the Kingdom party keeps going because there are many who are willing to love, extend mercy, and forgive as God wants us to do. The party goes on with or without me.
I think Jesus came to tell us all how imperative it is for us to learn how to get past our hurts, stop living in the past, and get back into a party mood. He tells us that we must do our part to keep the love that comes from God flowing, along with mercy and forgiveness. Pass it on. Also generosity, smiles, acts of kindness, good food, hope, laughter, and all of the other good things that life has to offer. Keep it going. Forgive, move on, and party hearty.
My prayer right now: Father God, show me where I’m blocking the flow. I want to know. Please show me.
Praise break: Party by Chris Tomlin – Enjoy!! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gy7G8VHWuXc
What does this scripture say to you?