“And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Verily I say unto you, they have their reward. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father who is in secret; and thy Father who seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions as the heathen do, for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not ye therefore like unto them, for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of before ye ask Him.” Matthew 6:5-8
Prayer is not to be a show of religious piety but the sincere communication of the heart and soul to God, our Father. Jesus urges His followers to quietly and, in the privacy of their own homes, pour out their hearts before the LORD God, trusting in Him to mercifully hear and answer their prayers. Those who make a show of their prayers to be seen by men have their only reward, but those who pray to God in secret will be heard by God in secret and rewarded openly.
Nor are Christians to use vain or empty repetitions in their prayers, as the heathen do, thinking that God will hear and answer their prayers because of their many words. Jesus teaches us that God desires the prayers of our hearts and not empty words uttered by our lips. Thus the mere repetition of prayers will merit us nothing before God and are not really even prayer at all! Rather, Christians are invited by God to come before Him with their petitions and thanksgiving, trusting that He indeed will hear and answer us for the sake of Jesus and His atoning sacrifice on the cross for the sins of the world (cf. 1 John 5:11-15).
It is not our many words or our religious piety that persuade God to hear and answer our prayers. Rather, it is His love and mercy toward us for Jesus’ sake that moves Him to reach out to us and invite us to come humbly before Him with our prayers and petitions, knowing and believing that He will hear us and grant what is best for us as His dear children through faith in Christ Jesus. And, as Jesus says, our Father knows the things we need before we even ask Him.
Dear Father in heaven, we thank You for Your grace and mercy toward us for Jesus’ sake, and we thank You for the privilege of coming before You in prayer. Move us to come before You in humility, trusting that You will hear and receive us for the sake of Jesus and His blood shed for us on Calvary. Amen.
“In this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy name.” Matthew 6:9
The Lord’s Prayer is perhaps the most misused prayer in all the world. People recite its words — sometimes repeatedly — with little or no thought as to what the prayer really asks of God. Instead of being a sincere prayer of the heart, it is often only empty words uttered from the lips.
When we remember that Jesus tells us, when we pray, to “use not vain repetitions as the heathen do” (Matt. 6:7), we would do well to consider the meaning of the Lord’s Prayer and take the time to pray through it with our hearts and minds and not just recite its words without thought.
We pray to “Our Father who art in Heaven.” Matthew 6:9
What a privilege it is for us to address the Almighty God, Maker of heaven and earth, as “our Father”! But that is what He is to us — our Father. Not only did He create each and every one of us, but He also redeemed each and every one of us from our own sin and rebellion by sending His only-begotten Son to fulfill all righteousness for us and to suffer and die for all our sins.
As believers in Christ Jesus, we sinners have the privilege of addressing God as “our Father” and can be assured that He forgives us and will both hear and answer our prayers for Jesus’ sake.
The Bible tells us in Galatians 3:26-27: “For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ, have put on Christ.”
Hebrews 10:19-22 says, “Having therefore boldness, brethren, to enter into the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living Way, which He hath consecrated for us through the veil (that is to say, His flesh), and having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.”
In 1 John 5:13-15, we also read: “These things I have written unto you that believe in the name of the Son of God, that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe in the name of the Son of God. And this is the confidence that we have in Him: that if we ask anything according to His will, He heareth us. And if we know that He hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of Him.”
Because Christ Jesus suffered and died on the cross for the sins of all and then rose again and ascended to the right hand of God the Father to intercede for us with His blood and be our Advocate before the Father, we can come boldly before the holy LORD God and He will hear us!
Is any petition too large when coming before the Maker of all things? Is any request too small for a God who has given such great attention to even the most minute detail?
What a privilege we have to be able to call God, the Maker of heaven and earth, our Father! And we can call Him just that and know that He, as our loving Father in heaven, will hear and answer all our prayers for the sake of His Son, Christ Jesus, who suffered and died for all our sins and rose again.
Dear Father in heaven, we thank You for Your love and mercy toward us and for the gift of Your Son to redeem us and make us Your own children through faith in Him. We thank You for the privilege of calling You “our Father” and for Your promise to hear and answer our prayers for Jesus’ sake. In His name, we pray. Amen.
“Our Father who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy name.” Matthew 6:9
And what should be our first request, as Jesus here teaches us to pray? “Hallowed be Thy name.”
Hallowed means to keep holy and set apart. We might ask, “Isn’t God’s name already holy?” And, most certainly it is. What then do we ask of the LORD God when we ask that His name be kept holy?
We ask that His name be kept holy among us and in our lives. In this petition, we ask God to let all we think, say and do bring glory and honor to His holy name. We ask that we would live in such a way that we do not dishonor His holy name and drag it down with us into the mud of sin.
It brings God glory and hallows His name when we humbly believe His Word, acknowledge our sinfulness and trust in His Son, Jesus Christ, as our Savior (cf. Eph. 1:3-14).
Isaiah the prophet wrote (Isa. 8:13): “Sanctify the Lord of hosts Himself; and let Him be your fear, and let Him be your dread.”
Instead of looking to ourselves, other gods and other people or things for help, we are to look to the LORD God and place our trust in Him.
God Himself says to us in Psalm 50:15: “Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify Me.”
The Bible tells us in Jeremiah 23:28,31-32: “‘The prophet that hath a dream, let him tell a dream; and he that hath My word, let him speak My word faithfully. What is the chaff to the wheat?’ saith the LORD. … ‘Behold, I am against the prophets,’ saith the LORD, ‘that use their tongues and say, “He saith.” Behold, I am against them that prophesy false dreams,’ saith the Lord, ‘and do tell them, and cause My people to err by their lies and by their lightness; yet I sent them not, nor commanded them. Therefore they shall not profit this people at all,’ saith the Lord.”
God teaches us that it brings honor to the name of the LORD God when we are faithful to His holy Word in our teaching, preaching and in our witness for Him. It dishonors the LORD when we preach our own words, ideas and opinions and attribute them to Him.
We pray in this petition of the Lord’s Prayer that all we think, speak and do may bring glory to our Father in heaven — that His name would indeed be kept holy among us.
Jesus said in Matthew 5:16: “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in Heaven.”
May we bring Him glory!
Our dear Father in heaven, Your name is indeed holy of itself. Grant that we would keep it holy among us also and not misuse it. Let us bring glory to You and Your holy name by acknowledging our sin and trusting in Your Son and our Savior, Jesus Christ, for forgiveness and life everlasting. And grant that we might live for You here in this world and faithfully speak Your Word until we join You in heaven in Christ’s eternal kingdom. Amen.
“Thy Kingdom come.” Matthew 6:10a
Even though God is patient and longsuffering with the people of this world, not wanting any to perish but all to come to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ (2 Pet. 3:9), He already rules over all things and the day is coming when every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father (Eph. 1:19-23; Phil. 2:10-11). And so, we might wonder, why does Jesus direct us to pray to the Father: “Thy kingdom come”?
Jesus here directs us to pray that His kingdom of mercy and grace would come to each of us and to people all over the world. Messiah Jesus was lifted up on the cross and crucified to pay the full penalty for our sins against God the Father — He died for the sins of the whole world and rose again from the dead on the third day. But, in spite of that fact, we would go on our merry way in ignorance of the import and meaning of what took place on that Roman cross outside of Jerusalem.
Of ourselves, we cannot enter God’s kingdom or be a part of it. As Jesus says, we must be born again of water and the Spirit (John 3:3ff.). And so Jesus directs His followers to pray for God’s kingdom to come — for God the Holy Spirit to graciously regenerate us through water and the Word and keep us trusting in Jesus and His shed blood for forgiveness and life everlasting. In this way, with childlike faith in Jesus and His atoning sacrifice, we are God’s children and a part of His eternal kingdom. The Bible tells us: “For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ, have put on Christ” (Gal. 3:26-27).
Not only do we pray that God’s gracious kingdom would come to us, but that it would come to others also. We pray that people, both near and far, would hear the good news of salvation through faith in God’s Son and that they would turn from their sinful and rebellious ways and trust in Jesus and His shed blood for forgiveness and life.
Jesus Himself was moved with compassion on the multitudes of people around Him because they were weary and scattered abroad as sheep without a shepherd. He tells us: “The harvest truly is plenteous, but the laborers are few. Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that He will send forth laborers into His harvest” (Matt. 9:37-38).
Finally, we are directed to pray for Jesus’ coming and the establishment of God’s everlasting kingdom.
As the Scriptures teach us, “For our abiding is in Heaven, from whence also we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious body, according to the working whereby He is able even to subdue all things unto Himself” (Phil. 3:20-21).
We look forward to the day of Jesus’ return in hope and longing for the blessings of His eternal kingdom (cf. Rom. 8:22-23), and so we pray: “Even so, come, Lord Jesus!” (Rev. 22:20).
Dear Father in heaven, graciously grant that Your kingdom would come to us — that we might have a place in Your kingdom through faith in the Son, Jesus Christ, and His sacrifice on the cross for our sins. Grant that others too, both near and far, may learn of Your mercy and forgiveness in Christ Jesus and trust in Him. And, dear Father, as You have promised, come and reign over us forever through Your only-begotten Son and our Savior, Jesus Christ. In His name, we pray. Amen.
“Thy will be done on earth, as it is in Heaven.” Matthew 6:10b
In heaven, all live in accord with God’s perfect and holy will. The psalmist writes: “Bless the LORD, ye His angels that excel in strength, that do His commandments, hearkening unto the voice of His word. Bless ye the LORD, all ye His hosts, ye ministers of His, that do His pleasure. Bless the LORD, all His works, in all places of His dominion. Bless the LORD, O my soul!” (Psalm 103:20-21).
On earth, since the fall of mankind into sin which is recorded in Genesis 3, it is not so; but man, as he is by nature, rebels against God’s perfect will and seeks to go his own way. Again, the Bible tells us: “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way” (Isa. 53:6).
Jesus, in the prayer which He has taught us to pray, directs us to pray that God’s will be done on earth — in our own lives — as it is in heaven! And what is God’s will? We find His perfect will recorded for us in the Holy Scriptures; God would have us faithfully believe and teach God’s Word and live according to it, submitting our will to His perfect will for us.
Jesus, God’s Son, faithfully carried out the will of His Father in heaven, even praying in the Garden of Gethsemane, “not My will, but Thine be done” (Luke 22:42). “And being found in the fashion of a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient unto death—even the death of the cross” (Phil. 2:8). We, on the other hand, so often say with our words and actions, “Not Thy will, but mine be done!”
But God the Father laid all our sin and guilt upon His Son, Christ Jesus; and Jesus paid the just penalty for our sins (Isa. 53:6). Jesus died on the cross, making full atonement for our sins and the sins of all, and rose again on the third day (1 Cor. 15:3-4).
God’s will for us is that we repent of our rebellion and sin against Him and trust in Christ’s shed blood for forgiveness and life. And, as a fruit of our faith in Christ, God desires that we conform our lives to that of His Son.
This is His will for all mankind (cf. 1 Tim. 2:3-6). And thus we pray: “Thy will be done on earth, as it is in Heaven.”
Dear Father in heaven, I am by nature sinful and rebellious. I have not lived in accord with Your holy and perfect will. Forgive my sins for Jesus’ sake. Fill me with Your Holy Spirit and grant me both the desire and the strength to live in accord with Your perfect will. “Not My will, but Thine be done.” “Thy will be done on earth, as it is in Heaven.” Amen.
“Give us this day our daily bread.” Matthew 6:11
Though the LORD God provides for the needs of both believer and unbeliever, God desires that we look to Him and trust in Him to provide us with food, clothing, and all we need day by day. As the Gospel of Luke says, “Give us day by day our daily bread” (Luke 11:3).
God taught His children that very thing when He led them out of Egypt and into the wilderness. When they needed food, He provided them with manna from heaven, sufficient for all to eat. But He also commanded them to gather only enough for each day.
When some disobeyed His commandment and gathered more than needed for a single day, the leftover manna bred worms and stunk the next morning. On the day preceding the Sabbath, God commanded that they gather enough for two days and it did not spoil as on other days. Again, when some did not listen and went out on the Sabbath to gather manna, there was none. Cf. Exodus 16.
Thus, God taught His people, who had grumbled and complained because they needed food in the wilderness, to trust Him each day for their daily bread.
Moses told the people: “And He humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know, that He might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live” (Deut. 8:3).
God even let His people suffer hunger that He might teach them to look to Him for their daily bread, and to His Word for their very life!
The Bible teaches us that we should be satisfied if we have the food and clothing needed for each day. Paul wrote to Timothy: “And having food and raiment, let us be therewith content” (1 Tim. 6:8).
Yet we are often fearful if we do not have our needs supplied for months, or even years, in advance. Jesus would have us trust our heavenly Father and look to Him to meet all our needs each and every day of our lives. He would not have us worry about what we will eat, what we will drink, or what we will wear. Rather, He would have us, in faith, turn to Him who knows our every need and so graciously provides (cf. Matt. 6:25-34).
Indeed, He may even let the cupboards be bare and the closets be empty to teach us to trust Him day by day. God would have us cast all our care upon Him, for He cares for us (cf. 1 Pet. 5:7).
And thus, Jesus teaches us to pray: “Give us this day our daily bread.”
Dear Father in heaven, we look to You to provide each day our daily bread. Keep us from worry or complaint and teach us to trust You to care for our every need, day by day. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.
“And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” Matthew 6:12
The Bible teaches us that “there is not a just man upon earth who doeth good and sinneth not” (Eccl. 7:20); and that even our best “righteousnesses are as filthy rags” in His sight (Isa. 64:6).
Therefore, our greatest need from God the Father is His mercy and forgiveness; and so we ask that He would not look upon our sins and failures to keep His commandments but forgive our sins for the sake of Christ Jesus and His innocent sufferings and death for us on the cross. Like the tax collector who knew his own sinfulness and shortcomings and would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, we also say, “God, be merciful to me a sinner!” (Luke 18:13).
Because God’s own dear Son, Messiah Jesus, took our sins upon Himself and bore our punishment when He suffered and died on the cross in our stead, God is merciful and forgiving toward us and promises pardon and life eternal to all who believe.
The Bible tells us: “For Thou, Lord, art good and ready to forgive, and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon Thee” (Psalm 86:5); “If Thou, LORD, shouldest mark iniquities, O LORD, who shall stand? But there is forgiveness with Thee, that Thou mayest be feared” (Psalm 130:3,4); and, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. … And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 1:8-9; 2:1,2).
It is because of Jesus, who suffered and died for our sins and rose again, that we can confidently come before God the Father and seek His mercy and forgiveness, saying, “Forgive us our sins” (Luke 11:4). God has graciously provided atonement for our sins and the sins of the whole world in His Son, and all who look to Christ Jesus in faith have God’s mercy and forgiveness instead of the eternal punishment they deserve.
The Bible tells us in Psalm 103:10-12 that God “hath not dealt with us according to our sins, nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is His mercy toward them that fear Him. As far as the east is from the west, so far hath He removed our transgressions from us.”
Because God has been merciful to us and has forgiven us all our sins for the sake of His Son, we also promise to forgive those who have sinned against us. We pray that God would forgive us “as we forgive our debtors.”
The Bible calls upon us to “be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you” (Eph. 4:32).
When we consider and remember our own unworthiness to be shown mercy, and the great debt of sin which our heavenly Father has forgiven each of us for Jesus’ sake, certainly we can also share and extend that mercy and kindness toward others who have sinned against us!
When Peter asked Jesus how often he should forgive his brother who sins against him, suggesting up to seven times, Jesus said to Peter: “I say not unto thee, until seven times, but until seventy times seven” (Matt. 18:21,22; cf. verses 23ff.). Jesus also said, “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matt. 6:14-15).
Dear Father in heaven, graciously forgive us all our sins against You for the sake of Jesus and His blood shed for us on the cross, and move us also to extend Your grace and mercy to others by forgiving those who have trespassed against us. We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.
“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” Matthew 6:13a
The Bible clearly tells us: “Let no man say when he is tempted, ‘I am tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth He any man. But every man is tempted when he is drawn away by his own lust and enticed” (James 1:13-14). Therefore, we are not, in this petition of the prayer which the Lord Jesus has taught us, asking God not to tempt us; for He “cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth He any man.”
Rather, since we are tempted when we are drawn away by our own sinful longings and desires, we ask our Father in heaven to lead us in such a way through our daily lives that we are not tempted — to be led on such a path where we are kept safe and protected from our own sinful longings as well as from all the enticements which the devil and the world put before us.
The Bible also assures us: “There hath no temptation taken hold of you but such as is common to man. But God is faithful; He will not suffer you to be tempted beyond that which ye are able to bear, but with the temptation will also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it” (1 Cor. 10:13).
Though God does not send temptation to evil, He does permit temptations to come. Yet, He limits the temptations and provides us a way out so that we may be able to endure and overcome them. Thus, we ask our heavenly Father to lead us in such a way that, when temptation does come, He would lead us safely through it and give us the victory.
Connected with this petition to our heavenly Father is the prayer that He would also “deliver us from evil.”
Again, the Bible tells us that we are to “be sober, be vigilant, because your adversary the devil walketh about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren who are in the world” (1 Pet. 5:8-9).
The devil — or Satan — is the father of lies and the deceiver. He seeks to keep us from God and His truth (cf. John 8:44). Like the roaring lion who stalks his prey and seeks out one that is weak or straying, so the devil watches for our weaknesses and attacks us when and where we are most vulnerable to his ploys. He seeks to keep us from God our Father and life everlasting through faith in Christ Jesus by causing us to doubt God’s Word and by leading us into a life of disobedience and sin.
Therefore, we are in constant need of the protection and deliverance of our Father in heaven; and we humbly pray: “deliver us from evil.”
And included in this petition, we pray that, when we do fall into sin and disobedience, God would graciously, for Christ’s sake, deliver us from the grasp of the devil and bring us to repentance. We pray that we would acknowledge our sin and disobedience and turn to the LORD God for His mercy and forgiveness for the sake of Christ Jesus and His innocent sufferings and death in our stead.
The Bible says, “My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:1-2).
When we repent of our sin and turn to the LORD for His mercy and forgiveness in Messiah Jesus, He delivers us from the grip of the evil one and brings us back into His eternal kingdom for Jesus’ sake.
As believers, we take heart in the words of St. Paul to Timothy (2 Tim. 4:18): “And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work and will preserve me unto His heavenly Kingdom, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”
Dear Father in heaven, lead me through life in such a way that I do not fall into temptation and sin; and deliver me from the attacks of the evil one upon my soul and upon my salvation in Your Son, Jesus Christ. And, Father, when I do fall, mercifully bring me to sincere repentance and faith, and preserve me for Your eternal kingdom. I ask this for the sake of Jesus’ blood shed for me. Amen.
“For Thine is the Kingdom, and the power and the glory for ever. Amen.” Matthew 6:13b
The Lord Jesus teaches us to pray to the Father and say, “Thy Kingdom come.” Indeed, the kingdom belongs to the LORD God, our heavenly Father; for He not only created all things, but He is building and establishing His kingdom of grace and mercy in Jesus Christ. Though all other kingdoms of this world will pass away, His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom that will never end (cf. Dan. 2:44; Rev. 7:9-17; 19:16; 21:1ff.).
God the Father established this kingdom by sending His only begotten Son to suffer and die for the sins of the world and rise again. And, by the gracious working of the Holy Spirit through the preaching of the Word, He calls His elect children to faith in Christ Jesus and gives them life in Jesus’ name, thus rescuing them from the kingdom of darkness and bringing them into the kingdom of His own dear Son, in whom there is forgiveness of sins through His shed blood.
It is as the Bible says, “He hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the Kingdom of His dear Son, in whom we have redemption through His blood, even the forgiveness of sins” (Col. 1:13-14).
Thus, we pray to God the Father and trust that He can and will hear and answer our prayers because His is the kingdom and His is the power.
In His grace and mercy, God the Father has brought us to repent of our sinful ways and trust in His Son, and so He has brought us into His kingdom. By His gracious power and working, He has called us from spiritual darkness and death to life through faith in Christ Jesus. And, of course, He continually rules over all and works for the good of His children. He can and will provide us with our daily bread. He can and does lead us safely through this life, and He will deliver us from every temptation and attack of the devil, the world and our own sinful flesh upon us and bring us safely into His eternal and heavenly kingdom of glory.
And, His is the glory. He has done it all. He created us by His almighty Word. He redeemed us by the innocent sufferings and death of the Son, Jesus Christ. As He raised up Christ from the dead, so He, by the gracious working of the Holy Spirit through His Word, called us from death to life through faith in Christ Jesus. He, through the ministry of Word and Sacrament, preserves His children in the faith and keeps them in His kingdom, and He shall bring them to glory. All the glory is His!
The Bible tells us, “For by grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God — not by works, lest any man should boast” (Eph. 2:8-9). Our salvation is entirely “unto the praise of His glory” (Eph. 1:14).
With the Apostle Paul and the Prophet Jeremiah, we can say, “He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord” (1 Cor. 1:31; cf. Jer. 9:23-24).
Dear Father in heaven, we laud and praise Your holy name for creating us, redeeming us and making us Your own dear children through faith in Your Son Jesus Christ. We thank You for hearing and answering our prayers. “For Thine is the Kingdom, and the power and the glory for ever. Amen.”
“For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” Matthew 6:14-15
Clearly connected to the petition, “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors,” Jesus points out a truth we often are ready to forget: “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
Does our heavenly Father forgive our sins because we forgive others? No, but rather, we forgive others because He forgives us; and, if we are unwilling to forgive those who have sinned against us, it indicates that we have not really accepted and grasped in faith God’s mercy toward us in Christ Jesus — His pardon and forgiveness won for us by the shed blood of His own dear Son.
A refusal to forgive another who has offended us in some way, after God Himself so loved us that He sent His only-begotten son into the world to suffer and die on the cross for our sins and the sins of all that we might be forgiven, is really a refusal to take hold of God’s mercy toward us in Christ Jesus.
In Matthew’s Gospel, chapter 18, verses 21 through 35, Jesus speaks of this further, illustrating with the parable of the servant who was forgiven a great, great debt by his master but who then would show no mercy and forgiveness toward a fellow servant who owed him a very small debt in comparison. Since the servant who had been forgiven so much was unwilling to show mercy to his fellow servant, he was delivered to the torturers until he paid all that was owed to his lord. Jesus concludes by saying: “So likewise shall My heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother’s trespasses” (v. 35).
Clearly, Jesus’ words are to us a warning against refusing to pardon and forgive others as we have been pardoned and forgiven by our heavenly Father for the sake of His Son, the crucified and risen Messiah and Savior. Rather than being without mercy and love in our dealings with others, the Scriptures encourage us to “be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you” (Eph. 4:32).
And how can we do this? Consider your own sinfulness according to God’s law, and consider the great debt of sin God has forgiven you because He sent His only-begotten Son and punished Him in our stead. When we consider and receive God’s forgiveness through faith alone in Christ Jesus, forgiving others for their sins against us will suddenly grow easier.
Dear Father in heaven, I have deserved nothing but Your wrath and punishment and am undeserving of the lovingkindness and mercy which You have shown to me for the sake of the innocent sufferings and death of Your beloved Son in my stead. Thank You for graciously forgiving and pardoning my great debt of sin against You. Grant to me also a merciful and forgiving heart toward others who sin against me, that I may be like You and show mercy and lovingkindness for Jesus’ sake. Amen.
[Scripture is quoted from the 21st Century King James Version (KJ21), Copyright © 1994 by Deuel Enterprises, Inc.]