Unless You Forgive

Matthew 6:12

“Forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors.” Matthew 6:12

Before we begin: Which is more difficult for you: asking God to forgive you or forgiving a person who has sinned against you.

The fifth petition of the Lord’s Prayer seems simple enough, but simple things can sometimes be very deep. These are the words of Jesus: “Forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors." Everyone agrees that this is a difficult word from the Lord. It is hard to understand and even harder to apply. Our basic problem is quite simple: It appears that the Lord has drawn something into this prayer that does not belong there. We would understand this petition perfectly if it read, “Forgive us our debts,” and just stopped right there. That would make sense.  We all understand that we need to confess our sins and ask for forgiveness. We know that confession and repentance are part of what prayer is all about. 

What makes this prayer so frustrating is that Jesus seems to drag in something that doesn’t belong when he adds the phrase “as we have forgiven our debtors.” At first glance, there doesn’t seem to be any necessary connection between the first part of the petition and the second part. 

Grace or Works?

It seems as if Jesus is saying, “The way you treat other people is the way God will treat you.” On one level that thought is puzzling; on another it is profoundly disquieting.  On still another level it appears to present a major theological difficulty. Not long ago I was invited to appear before our high school youth group for an event called “Stump the Pastor.” The teenagers were asked to write their questions ahead of time-and they were encouraged to be both creative and obscure. Several of the students excelled in the latter category by asking thing like “Who or what was Ziv?” and “Who is listed as the seventh-to-the-last ancestor of Joseph?” But one question dealt with this very petition. It went something like this: “Why does Jesus say that we should pray to be forgiven as we forgive others? Why would Almighty God tie himself to what we do on earth?” I think that’s a very good question.

Everyone agrees that this is a difficult word from the Lord.

So this petition is puzzling, difficult, and one that bothers every sincere thinker. It makes you wonder what Jesus really meant. Is Jesus here teaching that God’s forgiveness is conditional? Is he teaching us that our forgiveness with God is somehow predicated on our forgiving other people?  It would appear at first reading that that is indeed what he is teaching. If so, is this not teaching us that forgiveness is a work by which we gain God’s favor? What then happens to the great biblical doctrine of the grace of God? When it comes to forgiveness, who takes the first step-God or man? 

Indeed, this is a difficult text of Scripture. Because it is difficult, let me state my conclusion at the very beginning of this message. This verse means exactly what it says. The teaching of this verse can be given in one simple sentence: Unless you forgive, God will not forgive you. I repeat, this verse means exactly what it says. There is nothing hidden here; there is nothing tricky here. Jesus is saying that unless you forgive, you will not be forgiven. 

Signing Your Own “Death-Warrant”

Augustine called this text “a terrible petition.” He pointed out that if you pray these words while harboring an unforgiving spirit, you are actually asking God not to forgive you. Ponder that for a moment. If you pray “Forgive us our debts as we have forgiven our debtors” while refusing to forgive those who have wronged you, this prayer which is meant to be a blessing becomes a self-inflicted curse. In that case you are really saying, “O God, since I have not forgiven my brother, please do not forgive me.” That is why Charles Haddon Spurgeon, the great English preacher, said that if you pray the Lord’s Prayer with an unforgiving spirit, you have virtually signed your own “Death-warrant."

This verse means exactly what it says.

During one period of his life, John Wesley was a missionary in the American colonies-primarily in the area that would become the state of Georgia. There was a general by the name of Oglethorpe with whom Wesley had some dealings. General Oglethorpe was a great military leader, but he had a reputation as a harsh and brutal man. One day he said to John Wesley, “I never forgive.” To which Wesley replied, “Then, sir, I hope you never sin.”

The Key Word

When we pray, “Forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors,” we are asking God to forgive our sins according to the same standard we have used in forgiving the sins of others.  There are 11 words in the text, but only one of them is important for our purposes. It’s the little word “as.” Everything hangs on the meaning of that word. “As” is the conjunction that joins the first half of the petition with the second half. When Jesus says “as,” he is setting up a comparison between the way we forgive and the way God forgives us. This text says that we set the standard and then God follows the standard. We establish the pattern and then God follows that pattern in the way he deals with us.When you pray this prayer you are really saying, “O God, deal with me as I deal with other people. Deal with me as I have dealt with others.” We are virtually saying, “O God, I’ve got a dneighbor and I did some favors for my neighbor and my neighbor is ungrateful to me for all I have done. I am angry at my neighbor and I will not forgive him for his ingratitude. Now deal with me as I have dealt with my neighbor."It’s as if we’re praying, “O God, that man hurt me. I am so angry I can’t wait to get even. Deal with me as I have dealt with him.” We set the standard and God follows our lead. 

Augustine called this text “a terrible petition.”

No Exceptions

Unless you forgive you will not be forgiven. These are the words of C. S. Lewis:

No part of his teaching is clearer:  And there are no exceptions to it.  He doesn’t say that we are to forgive other people’s sins providing they are not too frightful, or providing there are extenuating circumstances, or anything of that sort.  We are to forgive them all, however spiteful, however mean, however often they are repeated.  If we don’t, we shall be forgiven none of our own (Fern-Seeds and Elephants, pp. 39-49).

To refuse to forgive someone else and then to ask God for forgiveness is a kind of spiritual schizophrenia. You are asking God to give you what you are unwilling to give to someone else. The fifth petition of the Lord’s Prayer tells us you cannot have it both ways.  Do you want to be forgiven?  You must forgive others. Unless you forgive you will not be forgiven.

A Serious Word to the Unforgiving

But does the Bible really teach that God’s forgiveness of us is somehow linked to our forgiveness of others?  Yes, indeed it does. Let’s go back to the words of Jesus.  The 5th petition is in verse 12.  Now drop down two verses. The Lord’s Prayer is over but Jesus is still speaking.

For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive men their sins your Father will not forgive your sins. (6:14-15)

I call one crucial fact to your attention: Jesus has just given us the Lord’s prayer and the only part that he singles out for additional commentary is the 5th petition.  All the others he leaves alone. I believe he offered further commentary because he knew that we would feel uncomfortable with this part of the Lord’s Prayer. He knew that we would try to wiggle out from under it. That is why in verses 14-15 he spells it out so clearly that no one can doubt it.

The Unforgiving Servant

In case you doubt what I am saying, consider the story Jesus told in Matthew 18:21-35.  

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me?  Up to seven times?  Jesus answered, I tell you not seven times but seventy times seven (vv. 21-22).

That’s 490 times. The clunk you just heard is Peter dropping over in a dead faint.  He can’t believe his ears. Then Jesus went on to give a parable. 

Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants.  As he began the settlements, a man who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him.  Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.  The servant fell on his knees before him.  “Be patient with me” he begged, “and I will pay back everything.” The master of the servant took pity on him, cancelled the debt and let him go (vv. 23-26).

Once upon a time there was a great king who ruled a vast realm. He was a man of extraordinary wealth-perhaps the richest person in the entire world.  He had a steward-a man who worked for him, a man who was in charge of his entire legal and financial affairs. The king said to the steward, “Take care of everything for me.” And the king went about his affairs, leaving everything in the hands of his servant. Evidently the king didn’t pay very close attention to what his servant was doing. While the king was otherwise occupied, his servant ran up a debt of ten thousand talents, which would be like $25 million. How do you run up a tab of $25 million? We don’t know how he did it, but he may have been running some sort of tax scam where he overcharged for taxes and kept the overage for himself. At length the day came when the king wanted an accounting. His CPAs ran the numbers, called the man in before the king, and delivered the bad news. “Your Majesty, this man owes you $25 million.” When the king asks, “How much money do you have?” the man answers, “I’m sorry, O King, but I’m broke.” That’s the second amazing fact of the story. First, he runs up his huge debt totally undetected, and then somehow he manages to spend it all. Wasn’t anyone paying attention? Not only did he steal that much money, he spent that much money. He is both iniquitous and stupid. This man doesn’t have anything with which to pay back the great debt to the king. So the king says, “You are going to have to pay me back.” The man falls on his knees and begs for mercy. He says something that again proves his stupidity, “Your Highness, give me time and I will pay back every-thing I owe you.” That’s crazy.  He couldn’t pay back what he owed in twenty lifetimes.  But something moved the heart of the king to mercy and compassion. The Bible says that the king forgave the man the $25 million debt when he could have punished him. Forgave him when he could have thrown him in jail. Forgave him when he could have had his life. He forgave him and this man who owed everything got up and walked away a free man. His debt had been wiped away.

But that’s not the end of the story.  

When that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii. (100 denarii would be like owing $5000 compared to $25 million.  It’s a relatively small amount of money.)  He grabbed him and began to choke him. “Pay back what you owe me,” he demanded.  His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, “Be patient with me and I will pay you back” (vv. 28-29).

Verse 29 is an exact replay of verse 26.  This poor fellow who owes $5000 begs for mercy using exactly the same words the first servant had used before the king.  

But he refused.  Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt.  When the other servants saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed and went and told their master every-thing that had happened.  Then the master called the servant in, “You wicked servant.  I cancelled all that debt of yours because you begged me to.  Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?” (vv. 30-33)

That last phrase is really the point of this whole story. “Shouldn’t you have had mercy on him just like I had mercy on you?” The answer, of course, is yes. The shocking thing was not that this man wanted the $5000 debt paid back. The shocking thing was that he was so unforgiving after having received such great mercy himself. What the king is saying is “I forgave your $25 million debt, couldn’t you have forgiven a measly $5000 debt?” This time the king is not going to be calm and he is not going to be conned a second time.  This time the king is not going to believe some sob story.  Verse 34 says “In anger his master turned him over to the jailers until he should pay back all that he owed.”  The moral of the story is in verse 35.  “This is how my heavenly father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from the heart.” Please note.  These words are for Christians. This is a warning to genuine believers concerning what will happen to them if they refuse to forgive.

The Hidden Torturers

In order to understand the full impact of this story, consider this question: Whose forgiveness came first?  Answer: The king’s forgiveness came first.  It’s in light of his great forgiveness that this servant’s unforgiving spirit is such a terrible thing. The king in the story is God, and you and I are like that unforgiving servant. We’re called in before Almighty God and when the story of our lives is read, there is a mountain of debt between God and us. It’s so high we can’t get over it, so wide we can’t get around it, so deep we can’t crawl under it. So we fall on our knees and cry out to God, “O God, have mercy on me, have mercy on me for Jesus’ sake.” God looks down at us and he says, “You don’t deserve it but for Jesus’ sake I will forgive you.” In one great moment of grace that mountain of debt is swept away and we rise, walk out of church singing to ourselves, “Lord, We Lift Your Name on High.” And just as we are going out to the parking lot we see somebody who has sinned against us. Suddenly the joy disappears and we want to go over and grab them and choke them and say, “Pay me what you owe me.”

We suffer because we who have been forgiven have harbored an unforgiving spirit. 

No wonder we’re so unhappy. No wonder we’re so frustrated. No wonder we can’t sleep at night. No wonder we have ulcers and back pains and headaches and all kinds of illnesses that come to us. No wonder we carry grudges. No wonder we are depressed and confused. It has happened to us exactly as Jesus said. We suffer because we who have been forgiven have harbored an unforgiving spirit.  Jesus said, “When my children refuse to forgive others I hand them over to the torturers who will torture them day and night until they learn to for-give from the heart.” What torturers? The hidden torturers of anger and bitterness that eat your insides out, the torturers of frustration and malice give you ulcers and high blood pressure and migraine headaches, the torturers that make you lie awake at night stewing over every rotten thing that happens to you, the hidden torturers of an unforgiving heart who stalk your trail day and night, who never leave your side, who suck every bit of joy from your heart.

Why? Because you will not forgive from the heart.

Two Objections

Two objections are often raised to the teaching I have just given. The first objection relates to the first half of the petition and the second one relates to the second half. First, some people say that Christians should never have to confess their sins. They argue that in light of our standing in Jesus Christ, we should never have to confess our sins and ask for forgiveness. They point out that justification means that all of our sins have been forgiven-past, present and future.  That’s a true fact, by the way, and I do not doubt that the Bible teaches it (Romans 5:1). But I do not believe it is correct to infer from the fact of our justification that we should never ask for forgiveness. Those who hold this view suggest that confessing your sins to God will make you very introspective and very negative. They imply that to confess your sins is virtually to doubt God’s work in your life. I only have one answer. Jesus said we were to pray, “Forgive us our debts.” Period. Jesus said we were to do it. That overrules all the theological objections.  If Jesus said we are to do it, then that’s what we have to do.

When Jesus says we should pray, “Forgive us our debts,” justification is not in view. 

But what about the apparent contradiction between our position in Christ and the need to ask God for daily forgiveness?  John R. Rice has the following very helpful comment on this point:

Though all my trespasses are already forgiven me (Col. 2:13) and not one of them can ever be charged against me to the condemnation of my soul, yet God is displeased when I sin and sin interferes with the communion of the child with his ‘Father which is in heaven.’  Referring to the salvation of my soul, my sins are already all forgiven.  But when fresh sin comes between the happy fellowship of the Father and child, then that sin needs to be removed, that is, forgiven, in the secondary sense. . . . And this daily cleansing and daily restoration of intimate, sweet fellowship with the Father we cannot have unless we forgive others their sins against us! (The King of the Jews, p. 107).

Jesus said in this prayer that we are to pray that our sins might be forgiven That much is clear.  It is also true that in Jesus Christ all your sins-past, present and future-are forgiven. Is there a contradiction here? No, not at all. When Jesus says we should pray, “Forgive us our debts,” justification is not in view.  He is speaking to his own disciples, to those who are already justified. This petition is not for unbelievers; it is for believers who have already been justified.  It is the already-justified who are told to pray, “Forgive us our debts.”

Jesus is teaching us that day by day as we sin we need to confess our sins and we need to be forgiven of our sins day by day. On the night before his crucifixion, Jesus washed the disciples’ feet in the Upper Room (John 13:1-17).When Peter’s turn came, he told Jesus not to stop with his feet but to wash his head and hands as well. Jesus replied with words that speak to this issue: “A person who has had a bath needs only to wash his feet; his whole body is clean. And you are clean” (John 13:10). The body itself was clean from the earlier bath but the feet are dirty from the dust of the day. When there is daily sin (the dust on the feet), there needs to be daily cleansing at the hands of the Lord Jesus Christ. Whenever you think about Matthew 6:12, you should also remember 1 John 1:9-a verse written to believers-“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Is God’s Forgiveness Conditional?

A second objection is sometimes raised against this teaching. This objection is more serious, in my opinion. Is Jesus teaching us that God’s forgiveness is conditional? In one sense (and only in one very limited sense), the answer is yes. I know of no other way to read this passage of Scripture.  But we must carefully qualify this teaching. Remember, the Lord’s Prayer is not given to unbelievers but to believers. It’s given to those who have already been forgiven by God.  It’s given to people who have experienced the grace of God. You’ve got to put Matthew 6 with Matthew 18 to get the right interpretation. There is no contradiction between those two passages.  In the parable of Matthew 18, the king’s forgiveness comes first. Forgiveness always begins with God.  Ephesians 4:32 says it plainly:  “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” That’s past tense. Forgiveness begins with God. It never begins with us. Every blessing we receive - salvation, forgiveness, justification, the new birth, new life in the Christ, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, to name only a few - starts with God and comes down to us. God is the giver and we are always on the receiving end of what he gives.  

The Lord’s Prayer is not given to unbelievers but to believers. 

Now go back to the parable. We represent that servant whose great debts had already been forgiven in the past. It’s on that basis that the Lord gives these verses in Matthew 6.  There is no contradiction whatsoever. Let me say it plainly: Matthew 6 assumes the prior forgiveness of God that is clearly expressed in Matthew 18. Jesus is not teaching two different ways of forgiveness. There is always only one way of forgiveness. God is always the source of forgiveness. The blood of Christ is always the ground of forgiveness. A repentant heart is always the condition of forgiveness. A forgiving spirit is always the evidence of forgiveness. The removal of sin and restoration of fellowship is always the result of forgiveness.

John Walvoord explains Matthew 6:12 this way:

(F)orgiveness is sought, assuming that the petitioner also forgives, although the reverse order is observed in the epistles; that is, we should forgive because we are forgiven.  In the family relationship the other aspect is also true.  The Christian already forgiven judicially should not expect restoration in the family relationship unless he, himself, is forgiving.  Verse 12 does not deal with salvation but the relationship of a child to his father (Thy Kingdom Come, p. 53).

There is no contradiction between Matthew 6 and Matthew 18. Both passages teach the same truth, only from different points of view. God’s forgiveness comes first. It establishes our position in Christ and removes the judicial punishment for our sin. On the basis of God’s forgiveness we are called to forgive others. If we refuse to forgive as we have already been forgiven (at the moment we trusted Christ), we will not be forgiven (in terms of the moment-by-moment cleansing we need to maintain intimate fellowship with God). 

An “Unforgiven” Christian

As strange as it may sound, there is such a thing as an “unforgiven” Christian. 

What happens when a believer holds a grudge? What happens when he refuses to forgive? What happens when a Christian harbors anger and ill-feelings toward those who have wronged him?  Is he forgiven? Yes, in the sense that he is justified before God. Yes, in the sense that when he dies, he will go to heaven. No, he is not forgiven in the sense of having daily cleansing and sweet fellowship with the Lord.  He is “in Christ” and “out of fellowship” with the Lord. He is walking in the flesh.  He has given Satan a foothold in his life (cf. Ephesians 4:26-27). He is walking in disobedience before the Lord. And he opens himself up to divine chastisement by the Lord (see Hebrews 12:4-11). “Unconfessed sin leads to a state of disagreement. You may be God’s child, but you don’t want to talk to him” (Max  Lucado).  Until you make things right by forgiving those who have sinned against you, things will never be right between you and the Lord.

As strange as it may sound, there is such a thing as an “unforgiven” Christian. This is not a statement about ultimate destinies. To be “unforgiven” in this sense means that the channel of God’s grace is blocked from the human side. In particular, it means that you have chosen to hang on to your bitterness and to forfeit your daily walk with the Lord. You would rather be angry than joyful. You have chosen resentment over peace. Your grudges have become more important to you than the daily blessing of God. You would rather live with the “hidden torturers” than experience the freedom of forgiveness. If you are a Christian-a genuine believer in Jesus Christ-unless you forgive you will not be forgiven. Why?  Because God has already forgiven your sins 100 percent by the blood of Jesus Christ. How dare you, then, be unforgiving to someone who hurt you?  That’s really the issue. How dare you be unforgiving after what Jesus Christ did for you on the cross?

The Real Condition of Forgiveness

The real condition of the forgiveness of sins is a repentant heart. Would we not all agree on that?  Before you can be forgiven, there must be true repentance before God. And what is the mark of a penitent heart if it is not a forgiving spirit towards other people? As John Stott puts it, “God forgives only the penitent and one of the chief evidences of true penitence is a forgiving spirit.” How can you even talk about wanting your sins forgiven if you’re holding grudges against other people?  You’re asking God to do for you what you are unwilling to do for others. 

There is a vital link between the way you treat other people and the way God in heaven is going to treat you. 

Our real problem at this point is not theological. Our real problem is personal. We don’t see ourselves as very great sinners; therefore, we do not appreciate how greatly God has forgiven us. But when your own sins seem small, the sins of others against you will seem big indeed.  The reverse is also true. The greater you see the depth of your sin before God, the less the sins of other people against you will bother you. If you think you’re not much of a sinner, then the offenses of other people are going to appear in your eyes as big. To paraphrase Matthew Henry, “He who relents is he who repents.” Don’t talk about repentance unless you are willing to forgive your brothers and sisters. Unless you are willing to forgive, your repentance is just so much hot air and empty talk. True repentance always starts with a change of mind that leads to a change of heart that leads to a change (in this case) in the way we view those who have sinned against us.

Needed:  A Serious Moral Inventory

Jesus is telling us that there is a vital link between the way you treat other people and the way God in heaven is going to treat you.  Let’s face it. We don’t like that. We’d much prefer if we could just have our relationship with God insulated and encapsulated so we could treat other people any way we like. Jesus says, “No deal.  You can’t have it that way." Unless you forgive you will not be forgiven. This is a hard word, isn’t it?  But it is a hard word of grace. Many of us desperately need to take a searching moral inventory and ask ourselves some serious questions:

Am I up to date on my forgiving?
Am I holding a grudge against anyone?
Do I harbor any bitterness against any person?
Have I forgiven those who have hurt me deeply?

Someone says, “But I can’t forgive.” No, don’t ever say that. The word “can’t” is a cop-out. The issue is deeper than that. You won’t forgive. Don’t make excuses and don’t play games. If you are a true Christian, a genuine believer in Jesus Christ, if your sins have been washed away, then you can forgive. What God has done for you, you can do for others. There may be some people who won’t forgive. As long as you won’t forgive you’re better off if you never pray the Lord’s Prayer because unless you forgive you will not be forgiven.

Someone says, “But I can’t forgive.” No, don’t ever say that.

And in all of this we have the example of our Lord Jesus Christ who when he was crucified-the innocent for the guilty-the just for the unjust-the righteous for the unrighteous-Jesus, who was murdered at the hands of wicked men, as he hung on the cross cried out, ” Father, forgive them for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).

A Place To Begin

Let’s wrap up this message with three simple statements of application.  

1.  You are never closer to the grace of Jesus Christ than when you confess your sins to him.  

Are you laboring under a burden of guilt because of foolish things you have said or done? A sense of your own sin is a sign of God’s grace at work in your heart. When you cry out, “God be merciful to me, a sinner,” you will find that the Father will not turn you away.

2.  You are never more like Jesus than when you forgive those who have sinned against you. 

Jesus was a forgiving Man.

Do you want to be like Jesus?  Become a great forgiver.  Jesus was a forgiving Man.  He came to create a race of forgiving men and women.

3.  You will never fully enter into your freedom in Christ until you learn the freedom of forgiveness.

The two freedoms go together. As long as you hold on to your resentments, you are still chained to the past. You only hurt yourself.  By refusing to forgive, you block off the channel of God’s blessing in your life. Although there is freedom in Christ, the unforgiving Christian knows nothing about it. He is still in bondage to the remembered hurts from the past.  Until those chains are broken by a decisive act of forgiveness, he will remain a slave to the past.

I have said several times that this is a hard word and indeed it is. But is also a cleaning word that cuts through all our flimsy excuses and leads us to a fountain of grace where we can be healed, made whole, and restored to a right relationship with our Creator. Our God freely forgave us while we were his enemies. Can we not do for others what he has done for us?

The word of the Lord remains.  Unless you forgive you will not be forgiven.

Father in heaven, we thank you for the cleansing Word of God that cuts through all of our flimsy excuses.  We praise you because that same Word of God is also able to make us whole and right in your eyes. O God, may we not fight against your work in us. Help us to become great forgivers that we ourselves might be forgiven, cleansed, and strengthened to walk closely with you this week. We ask it in the name of Jesus who made our forgiveness possible, Amen.

A Truth to Remember: True repentance always starts with a change of mind that leads to a change of heart that leads to a change in the way we view those who have sinned against us.

Going Deeper

1. What are some of the “debts” for which you need forgiveness by God? How is the blood of Christ the “ground” of our forgiveness?

2. Why did Jesus single out this petition for further commentary in Matthew 6:14-15?

3. Which comes first–God’s forgiveness of us or our forgiveness of others? Why is the order crucial in properly understanding this petition and the parable of Matthew 18:21-35?

4. Do you agree that even though we are justified by grace, Christians still need to pray for daily forgiveness from the Lord?

5. Name some of the “hidden torturers” that torment us when we refuse to forgive others? How have you experienced this in your own life?

6. Why is it often hard for us to forgive those who have sinned against us? How does our own pride play into our refusal to forgive? Why is humility necessary on our part to forgive others?

An Action Step

Perhaps you need to make a trip to the Cemetery of Forgiveness. To do that you need to take your Bible, a pen and a piece of paper, and find a quiet place. Ask the Lord to bring your mind the sins of others against you. Write down whatever comes to mind. Then write at the top of the list the word FORGIVEN. Then dispose of the list by burning it, burying it, flushing it, or ripping it into tiny pieces. As you do, recall the words of Psalm 103:12, “As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” Ask God to give you His forgiving grace to do the same toward those who have sinned against you.

2009-10-14-

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