Bible Reading: Matthew 18:21-35
We continue our praying through the Lord’s Prayer with the phrase:
“Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors” [Matthew 6:12]
In the parable that Jesus told about the unforgiving servant the issue was a debt that was forgiven and a debt demanded. The servant was forgiven a huge debt but refused to forgive someone else a small debt that was owed to him. Not to forgive is likened to demanding a debt be repaid. Unforgiveness say, “He owes me and apology.” Pastor John Barr used to say, “Forgiveness is tearing up the I.O.U.” Nothing damages a person more than unforgiveness. It can cause all sorts of physical and emotional illness, but even worse, our own forgiveness of sins by God is dependent on our forgiving of others.
When Esther and I were living in Indonesia we cycled to a small village several kilometers from where we lived along a twisty path through woodland. I challenged my wife to a race and was ahead of her when I heard her scream. Jumping off my bike I ran back, and found that several young men had jumped out of the bushes, and with to intent to harm her had already begun to pull off her clothes. As I ran to her rescue the young men ran off into woods. Esther was deeply affected by this attack, and in the weeks that followed often expressed fear, and had nightmares that caused her to scream out. She saw those young men as representatives of all Indonesians, and on several occasions expressed a desire to go back home to her Mum.
Esther struggled for some time with the emotion of what had happened to her but realized that if she did not deal with this issue in her heart, it could negatively affect not only her ministry as a missionary in Indonesia but ultimately her walk with the Lord. One Saturday morning, as we knelt to pray, Esther cried, “Lord, I cannot love these people, but I know that You love them, and want I You to love them through me.” A few moments later she experienced something like warm water flowing through every part of her being, and she was free. The reality of that experience was confirmed a few days later as we read in Romans 5:5 – “The love of God is poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit given unto us.”
Read Mark 11:25-26. Why do you think that unforgiveness is such a hindrance prayer?
If, as you meditate upon today’s devotional, you are reminded of someone who hurt you, abused you, or spoke harshly to you and who you have not forgiven, then would you ask the Lord to help you to forgive them?