Summary: The Lord’s Prayer teaches us that forgiveness is important and that we are to forgive as Christ has forgiven us.
Forgiveness Given and Received
Please stand with me as we read together this morning’s very familiar text. It is a prayer, and so we can read it like a prayer to God today.
Pray like this:
Our Father in heaven, may your name be honored.
May your Kingdom come soon.
May your will be done here on earth, just as it is in heaven.
Give us our food for today,
and forgive us our sins, just as we have forgiven those who have sinned against us.
And don’t let us yield to temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.
"If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.”
There is so much we could discuss concerning the Lord’s Prayer. We could look at the topic of holiness and how our heavenly Father is to be honored and glorified by our words and by our actions. We could discuss the kingdom of God and how our prayers should be centered on seeing God’s Kingdom established here on earth as it is in heaven. We could talk about our need for the bread of life and how we desperately need to hear from God each and every day. We could also look at the importance of living the victorious life, and that we need protection from the evil one.
But what stands out when you look at these words of Jesus recorded in the book of Matthew, is that Jesus wanted to focus on the topic of forgiveness.
Forgiveness is a topic of great importance to all of us. We all understand that we are sinners, and that our sin has separated us from the love of God. We know that sin causes death, and that our sins brought death to Christ on the cross. When we look at our own lives, we appreciate and give thanks to God for all He has given us in Jesus.
But when it comes to forgiving those who have hurt us, the idea of forgiving as God has forgiven us comes with a whole lot of baggage. Every person in this room has been deeply hurt by someone. Perhaps it was a parent or a child or another family member. Perhaps it was a close friend, a co-worker, or a neighbor. But what we all know is that you can’t live on this sin-soaked planet inhabited by sin-stained people for very long without having your heart broken. Sin hurts, and we have all been hurt by the sin of others.
To accept and know the forgiveness of God is a wonderful thing. We can only receive it when our eyes are open to see the awfulness of our sin, and the greatness of God’s love and mercy towards us. But to give someone who has hurt us this same forgiveness, love and mercy requires a dramatic change in us.
Jesus says there is a connection. Jesus says you can’t talk about the forgiveness of God without talking about the forgiveness of others. And so our theme this morning is this:
The experience of forgiveness is forever linked to the expression of forgiveness.
To put it another way:
Receiving forgiveness is linked to giving forgiveness!
Notice the Prayer taught by Jesus again:
Forgive us our sins, just as we have forgiven those who have sinned against us.