Also, forgiving others.
I'm not really the kind of person who holds grudges-- I'm sort of forgetful that way. I get over things pretty quickly, though there are some things that stick in my craw (competition, "not enough room for the both of us"-ism, etc.). But last week, my mom and dad and Don and I were having one of those fabulous conversations my family is so good at-- sitting around the dinner table, everyone is finished eating, and the subject of grace or predestination or the rapture or leadership comes up and we're there for four more hours. This time we were talking about the Lord's prayer and that one line, "forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors," came up (which also happened to be the subject of the sermons at CFUMC the next day). Seems that there was some debate in one of Mom's bible studies about that tricky word, "as."
I'm going to go into it a bit more later (because I really do need to clean my house this morning), but here is the sticking point: did Jesus mean "forgive us our debts the way we forgive our debtors"? Hm. Can't be-- I might be, as I've mentioned, fairly sanguine, but I'm still pretty crappy at being really good at forgiving. I'm human. Or does it mean, "forgive us our debts AS [when, at the same time] we forgive our debtors"? Because these two things carry different implications. The latter suggests that WHEN we forgive others, THEN we will be forgiven.
And this makes good sense to me.
Do you remember the story Jesus told about the man who owed a certain amount large amount of money to another man, so he was jailed? He cried out for mercy and the guy he owed money to released him and forgave the debt. And what did the released man do? He went and found someone who owed him money (a much smaller sum), "grabbed him by the neck" and demanded that he pay that debt immediately. When he could not, the released fellow threw this guy into jail. The first guy heard about all of this, went to the man he had released from jail and threw him back in because he had not been merciful. He said, "So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses" (Matthew 18:35).
Seems fairly clear to me.
And scary. That if we do not forgive-- and that doesn't mean, "I forgive you. You jerk"-- and completely release the offender from his debt (aigh!!!), we cannot be forgiven.
We forfeit forgiveness.
Now, whenever we see a "so that" or an "if then" verse, there is a corollary. I'll continue with this thinking later... until then, I'm going to listen to Keith Green and clean...