Giving and Forgiving
Forgiveness. The hallmark of devout worship and what we pray for in the Lord’s Prayer. The question is, how can we come to that condition of heart and mind that is truly forgiveness?
In the Lord’s Prayer we pray both that God would forgive us and that we would forgive those who are indebted to us. This forgiveness does not depend on our attitude toward God, but rather hinges on our attitude toward ‘those who are in debt to us’. At the very heart of God’s forgiveness of us is our capacity to forgive our neighbour (Mt 6:14-15). A curious quid pro quo that is the essence of our relationship with God, which is one of unmerited favour, unrestrained mercy and the unqualified gift of Immanuel – God with us.
It is then appropriate and even essential that in this season of giving we are called to give what can be most difficult; clemency, mercy, and forgiveness to those who have ‘trespassed against us’.
And what is more countercultural and more difficult to do in our relationships with others, than to give up our claim to what we think is deserved or have a right to? The full effect of this forgiveness is a change of our heart. A change that accomplishes what is perhaps best described as love, joy and peace – the complete gift and reason for the season.