LIVING A LIFE OF REPENTANCE
“Forgiveness from God and our forgiving others are tied together by Jesus. This jars our Christian sensibilities, but that is precisely why Jesus says it as he does: we need to hear how connected our forgiveness and God’s forgiveness are—not so we will go about trying to earn our forgiveness by forgiving others but so we will see the utter importance of being people who forgive.” -Scott McKnight in The Story of God Bible Commentary
The petition, “forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors” can cause Christians to question whether God’s forgiveness is freely offered because of the work of Jesus, or if it is earned by our good works—specifically the good work of forgiving others who have wronged us.
It is important to remember that Jesus is not giving us a thorough explanation of forgiveness and the basis on which God forgives. Rather, he is simply emphasizing two realities that we must embrace.
First, this petition is a reminder of our need for forgiveness. If we ever forget the immensity of the debt that our sins have created, we will lose sight of God’s grace, we will begin to think that God owes us, and we will lack grace and forgiveness for those who sin against us. This is the reason Paul begins many of his letters by reminding us of the condition we were in before Christ forgave us and cleansed us (e.g. Ephesians 2:1—10; Romans 1—2). He wants us to never forget the lengths God went through to eliminate our debt and reconcile us to himself.
Second, this petition, and the follow-up discussion Jesus adds in 6:14—15, reveals the fact that forgiven people will forgive people. Rather than see this passage as a formula for how to be forgiven, we should see it as a portrait of what it looks like to be forgiven. Jesus illustrates this point later in Matthew 18:23—35. He tells the story of a man who was forgiven an immense amount of debt but was unwilling to forgive someone who owed him a few dollars. The point of the story is not to present us with a formula, but to highlight the attitude one should display if he understands the forgiveness he has received. In the story, the man’s unwillingness to forgive displays the fact that he had never repented. He did not see the forgiveness he received as grace. He either thought it was owed to him, or he didn’t believe he had truly been forgiven.
This petition should lead us to the cross. When Jesus goes to the cross, he accomplishes the forgiveness that we all need. When we understand the debt of sin that we have been forgiven, we will be people who are quick to forgive. This is a demonstration of the reality that, because of the blood of Jesus, we are a forgiven people.
READ LUKE 11:1-13 FOCUSING ON VERSE 4
Meditate on the gospel and God’s pardon for your sin. Pray for God to grant you a heart that desires to pursue and grant forgiveness to this person.
What is your next step? Pray as a group over those steps.
PRAY OVER YOUR OIKOS DOCUMENT
PRAY OVER THE 5 REQUESTS ON THE FASTING AND PRAYER GUIDE
PRAY FOR ONE ANOTHER IN YOUR COMMUNITY GROUP