Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church - Marshfield, WI

Fifth Petition of the Lord\'s Prayer

April 4 - And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.

What does this mean? We pray in this petition that our Father in heaven would not look at our sins, or deny our prayer because of them. We are neither worthy of the things for which we pray, nor have we deserved them, but we ask that He would give them all to us by grace, for we daily sin much and surely deserve nothing but punishment. So, we too will sincerely forgive and gladly do good to those who sin against us.

I have done so much against God.  My sins and vices that I commit.  And the sad thing is that I know better.  Too often when I succumb to sin, I sit there and think, “wait a minute, you know better than this.” But yet the sinful flesh revels in its destruction.

And here is where God’s grace comes so speedily as I sit in sin.  It points me to the cross.  There is where atonement has been won for me.  There is where I am to put my hope.  For the sins that I am aware of and the sins that not even I am aware of but only God knows that I have done.  These I confess in this petition.

I am always in wonder that for how much I have done against God, he has forgiven me.  Forgiveness is not a “try again harder this time.”  It is the full cancellation of the debt that I owe.  I owe nothing to God, he has reconciled himself to me.   The freedom that I have won does not mean that I now can go back to the sty and get all muddied up again.  A free person does not seek to be enslaved once more.
And it doesn’t seek to make slaves of anyone else for their sins either.  Whatever sins my neighbor or my enemy has committed against me, is nothing compared to what I have done to God.  And at any rate, I have less of an excuse for my sins.

And now because of the forgiveness in Christ that I have been given, I am now able to set others free as well.  This is always risky.  They could hurt you again.  But the point of forgiveness for your enemies is for their release.  They owe you nothing.  Why?  Because you don’t owe God anything.  We will bear with the sins of others, especially in the family of God, because it is a chance to be Jesus Christ to them and to bear their sins just as Christ bore ours.
This is hard, and no human being can do this.  So we ask God to grant this for us.  We ask him to change us by his grace.  And by the grace we extend to others, that they would be changed too. 
We are reminded by Luther above that we daily sin much and we deserve nothing from God that is good.  So all our prayers are asked out of the mercy and grace of Jesus Christ. By asking for grace, we are able to give grace to others.  Christians live and die by grace.  Grace alone.

After all, there is a resurrection coming.  A renewal that will replace the sin and stain of the old.  Jesus is doing that and granting that to us.
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