One of the most profound things Jesus taught us is found in the Lord’s Prayer. “Forgive us our debts (trespasses) as we forgive our debtors (trespassers).” As a child I thought of this in legalistic terms. If I wanted God to forgive me I needed to forgive others. If I did not then He would not. Forgiving others was a “work” on my part to receive His grace. As Paul says, “When I was a child I thought as a child. Now that I am an adult I should cease my childish understanding.”
Jesus’ counsel is not about heaven’s record keeping. It is about the quality of our lives here and now. Forgiving means letting go of hurts. Forgiving means I can stop licking my wounds. It means stop hating. Hating is a terrible thing. Hating is getting up in the morning and taking a poison pill and thinking I am hurting someone else.
Jesus also tells us to pray for our enemies; a very difficult thing to do. Well, that is if I am praying for them to be well and prosper. It is easy to pray for them to have something horrible happen to them. (God isn’t interested in answering those kinds of prayers.) The truth is we cannot hate without harming ourselves. This is true be it a family member, a neighbor or a politician. Christians who pass on political hate mail are only harming themselves by feeding on cyanide and trying to feed it to others.
Jesus made us. Jesus invented and designed our minds. We cannot ignore His counsel and expect to do well any more than we can expect our car to continue to run if it has a gasoline engine and we put in diesel.
Written by Roger Bothwell on February 24, 2015
Spring of Life, PO Box 124, St. Helena, CA 94574