Countless millions of church goers over the years have memorized and regularly prayed what is commonly referred to as “The Lord’s Prayer.” Within that prayer, there is a line whereby we ask God to forgive us our trespasses. If we are honest with ourselves and spend even the slightest moment of self-reflection, it should be obvious that sin (trespass against God) is a regular part of our lives. Therefore, Jesus tells us that it is wise to go to God daily recognizing our own sinful behavior and our need for His forgiveness.
What we tend to minimize in the Lord’s Prayer is the second half of that verse, which is just as important as the first. Jesus didn’t tell us to pray simply that God would forgive us unconditionally. Instead, he tells us to seek God’s forgiveness at the same level that we will forgive others ourselves. In effect, what we are saying to God is that if we are unwilling to forgive others, then God should feel free to treat us the same way.
Jesus puts that same formula on us regarding judging others when he is preaching the Sermon on the Mount. Matthew 7:2 states “For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” We can judge others, just as we can refuse to forgive others, but if that is the path that we travel, we must be prepared to be treated the same way by God when we face Him.
Jesus was not sent to condemn the world, but to save it. Therefore, as we strive to be like Christ, so too must we focus on saving the world instead of judging and condemning. As Jesus was dying on the cross, he asked God to forgive those who were executing him. Therefore, as we strive to be like Christ, so too must we focus on forgiving those who persecute us regardless of how terrible the persecution is.
If you are someone who says that it is impossible to do that, to act as Christ did, Jesus himself would agree. Jesus said, “With man, this is impossible but with God all things are possible.” Only when we surrender ourselves at the cross and allow the Holy Spirit to fill us and guide us will we truly be able to forgive others as Christ forgave, and forgo judging others just as Christ did. If you are having trouble forgiving others or judging them, perhaps the problem is that you haven’t really surrendered yourself to Jesus completely. May these words, therefore, prompt you to let Jesus be Lord over all of your life, even those dark corners where unforgiveness and judgement hide, because there is no darkness in the Light of the World and He wants you to life abundantly in that light.
Peace and blessings – Pastor Aaron