Pressing On

with THE WORD

A study of the Scriptures to discover who God is, what He is like, and how to partner with Him now.

Filtering by Tag: made in God's image

Forgiveness and prayer (part 1)

We have been taking a close look at what Jesus has prescribed as the model for our prayers:

Matthew 6:9-13 Therefore, you should pray like this:
Our Father in heaven, Your name be honored as holy.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And do not bring us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.
For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.
Amen.

In the middle of Jesus’ model prayer, we find a peculiar statement.

Matthew 6:12 And forgive us our debts, as we have forgiven our debtors.

This statement stands out because it is the only conditional statement in the entire model prayer. 

It’s conditional in that it is self-limiting.  In effect, I’m asking God to forgive me to the degree that I have forgiven others.  And that’s a pretty scary thought – because I’m quick to ask God for his forgiveness of my own sins and failings, but I also tend to harbor grudges against those who have hurt me.  To ask for God’s forgiveness when I am unwilling to extend the same grace to others is hypocritical…and how offensive would that be to ask God for something I am unwilling to give to others in my life?

Jesus affirms the importance of this relationship habit when immediately after giving the model prayer, he says

Matthew 6:14-15 For if you forgive people their wrong-doing, your heavenly Father will forgive you as well.  But if you don’t forgive people, your Father will not forgive your wrong-doing.

Christ’s main purpose in the model prayer is the development of the relationship between us and God.  However, it seems that our relationship with others also affects how well we can relate to God.  We demonstrate our own understanding of God’s unconditional forgiveness toward us in how well we forgive those who have wronged us.

Whenever my family members wrong me, or my coworker backstabs me, or my friend neglects me…to the degree that I harbor my anger toward them and let my resentment linger, Jesus says my relationship with the God of the Universe will be hindered! 

When my boys are not getting along, their individual relationships with me are also affected.  There have been plenty of times where we do not move forward until their relationship with each other has been addressed.  My son has no standing with me to ask for forgiveness when he is unwilling to forgive his brother.

I think that is why Jesus includes a direction in his model prayer to pray conditionally about us restoring our relationship with God through our forgiveness of others.

Matthew 6:12 And forgive us our debts, as we have forgiven our debtors.

A difficult thing to pray, that is for sure…but keeping it in mind helps guide us to the goal of fulfilling our created design – we were made in God’s image, as a reflection of who he is, so we should forgive like he does.

Keep Pressing,
Ken

Reflections

Reflections.  Imitations. 

We’re all echoes of what has been modeled for us, either good or bad.  Growing up we watch our parents, our friends, politicians, sports stars, celebrities – and then decide for ourselves what values and behaviors are worth emulating, and which ones are not.  Nowadays, we “follow” certain people or groups in social media.  When we need help or advice, we seek out people who have succeeded in business, parenting, finances, or leadership…and then put their recommendations into practice.  We’re imitators, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.  In fact, we were built that way:

Genesis 1:26-27 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, overall the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”  So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

We are reflections of our Creator.  We are made in his image.  From these verses in Genesis, we find that we represent some of God’s attributes and mimic some of his authority over the rest of creation.

When we find directions in the rest of Scripture to do some things and avoid other activities, they aren’t just rules where God is “bossing us around”.  The guidelines that God spells out in the Bible are there to show us how to best reflect the characteristics of God that he has instilled in us.

Paul wanted Titus to remind the Cretan believers of how the choices they made and the character of their lives would represent God to the morally bankrupt culture which surrounded them.

Titus 3:1-2 Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all men.

As always, Jesus is our perfect example of how to reflect God to the culture around us.  Looking at his life, we find that Jesus was

subject to rulers and authorities – even the corrupt ones
obedient – he followed through with God the Father’s plan of Salvation, even though it meant his death
ready to do good – he always acted in the best interest of everyone he encountered
slandering no one – he never spoke deceitfully
peaceable and considerate – he always engaged people in the moment, where they were at
true humility toward all men – the King of kings purposely chose to be the servant of all

When we follow Christ’s example, we fulfill our purpose and become what we were created to be.    

Which of these six traits will you reflect today?

Keep Pressing,
Ken