Do the words “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us,” scare you as much as they sometimes scare me? When I pray the Lord’s Prayer I realize that I am really praying: “Heavenly Father, please forgive me and treat me the way that I forgive and treat others.” Have you pondered why the Lord taught us to pray in this manner?These words ought to cause us all to tremble with some degree of fear,or at a minimum, cause us to seriously examine how we do in fact, deal with the faults of others. Do we honestly want God to forgive us only to the degree that we forgive others? Let’s examine this a little further.Perhaps Jesus misspoke.
Perhaps He got His sentence structure turned around backwards. Maybe it is the old “which came first the chicken or the egg thing,” God’s forgiveness of us or our forgiveness of others. The way He structured His words in this prayer, He is telling us our forgiveness is a key essential. Perhaps we could be so bold as to suggest to Jesus a minor revision to the Lord’s Prayer. Rather than His words we could submit a change for His consideration.JESUS’ VERSIONForgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.POSSIBLE NEW REVISIONSDon’t forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.(Lord knows, we would not want Him to do that.)OrHelp us to forgive others who trespass against us as you forgive us when we trespass against you.(With this version at least we are telling Him we will try following His direction.)
Dear friends, Jesus did not make a mistake and no, we cannot make any revisions to the Lord’s Prayer. He wanted us to think twice about what we were really asking the Father. We were asking to be treated by Him the way we first treat others. That means we better be treating others with mercy and forgiveness, because we depend on God’s mercy for our salvation.Matthew 9:13 teaches us this: “Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” Jesus was often pretty tough on the self-righteous Pharisees. His terms like empty tombs, vipers and thieves, were pretty tough words. If we are not careful, and we can’t learn to forgive others, those may be the words Jesus might one day use on us.Jesus of course was very forgiving towards sinners. Are we willing to be? In Matthew 5:7 we read “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.”The Pope has called this the year of mercy, so let’s take a minute and look at the definition of mercy: Webster defines mercy as: compassion or forbearance shown especially to an offender…showing leniency.
Think of it this way, mercy juxtaposition tograce: Mercy is displayed when we don’t get what we deserve (punishment) and grace is what we do get but don’t deserve (love and forgiveness despite our sins). Can we forgive others in a similar fashion?There are some lyrics in a song called JESUS FRIEND OF SINNERS by the group Casting Crowns that speak to my heart on this topic of mercy:Jesus, friend of sinners, the one who’s writing in the sand Made the righteous turn away and the stones fall from their hands Help us to remember we are all the least of these Let the memory of Your mercy bring Your people to their knees Nobody knows what we’re for only what we’re against when we judge the wounded What if we put down our signs crossed over the lines and loved like You did Oh Jesus, friend of sinners Open our eyes to world at the end of our pointing fingers Let our hearts be led by mercy Help us reach with open hearts and open doors Oh Jesus, friend of sinners, break our hearts for what breaks yours CASTING CROWNS lyrics are property and copyright of their owners. “Jesus, Friend Of Sinners”
Is that it? Maybe that is exactly what Jesus meant for us to be askingthe Father for in the Lord’s Prayer, “Please break our heart for what breaks yours.” Most of us pray the Lord’s Prayer every day. We certainly should not be changing the words so let’s instead beg God for the strength and courage to live our life in a way that’s true to the words we pray. In Luke 6:36, we read these words: “Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.” Therefore I leave you with Jesus’ words to pray:
“Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Amen!