“If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.” (Matt. 6:14-15, NLT)
These are a couple of verse we like to skip when we go through the Lord’s Prayer, but they are two of the most important, especially within the context of the Sermon on the Mount.
I look at these verses with a picture of a closed fist and open hand in mind. In the Lord’s Prayer we are to ASK for forgiveness. We ask for that FIRST, before we ask for the ability to forgive others, because we need to realize our own shortcomings and failings first. We need to remember our great capacity to screw up and then remember since God forgave US… we should be able to extend forgiveness to others.
If we want to hold on to grudges and anger and grief, we live life with a closed fist. When we have a clenched fist and someone hands us something, we have no ability to receive what they are giving us. To receive what is being handed to us, we have to let go of what is there… release it… then reach out to receive what is being offered.
To receive God’s forgiveness toward us, we need to live in the power of RELEASE. We have to let go of the hurt.
This weekend I find myself in those situations. I am actually thrown back 20 years to one of the most horrible periods in my life. Check that. THE most horrible period in my life. And it was a mess of my own making.
In that mess I learned some very powerful lessons. I learned that it is the enemy who keeps us from confessing sin. We make excuses about “the Church” and how it hurts us, and I learned that is just a lie of the enemy. The enemy whispers, “They won’t forgive you. They will judge you.”
Some people could not forgive me. But I found amazing forgiveness among people I honestly thought would hate me forever. I don’t begrudge people NOT “forgiving” me or “letting it go.” What blows me away was the capacity of the Church, that place we always blame for being mean, to get me back in and let healing flow.
I also learned in my own life that the farther away I get from that horrible place in my life, the more I need to be reminded of it from time to time to walk in the pattern of forgiveness myself. I need to remember the amazing capacity of key people in my life to keep on loving me, even when I had nearly destroyed them. Then, I need to walk with THAT capacity to love and forgive.
It doesn’t change the facts. The hurt is still there. But there is a big difference between feeling the hurt of a tiny little sting and the hurt of some big gash in your arm. The power of forgiveness helps ease up the hurt.
I want my capacity in the Kingdom to continually increase. For that to happen, I need my hand OPEN… not clenched around the anger of my personal pain. Easy? Not by a long shot. Possible? Only through the power of grace in the Kingdom of God.
2 thoughts on “The Capacity of Growth in the Kingdom of God”
Thanks PD, this was used today for our men’s breakfast. I found myself at the end asking questions related. Maybe not all the most relevant, but great questions. Thanks sooo much.
Very good thoughts on one of the hardest commandments we’re given as Christians.