Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come, your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.”
When I was in junior high our youth group was blessed by having an incredible youth ministry team. They always had the essentials to a good Sunday school class: the Bible, understandable lessons, fun games, and of course doughnuts. I had allot of fun during my time at Bethel Baptist, but one of my favorite activities involved acting out a parable of Jesus. What they had us do was get a wrapping paper tube, and while holding it up to one eye, do various tasks, one of which was helping someone remove the tube from a roll of toilet paper from their eye. Needless to say the “plank” in our eyes made things incredibly more difficult, and as quick as a silly game, the point that Jesus was making in this parable of a speck and a plank set in.
In the third section in the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus has us do a very hard thing, but an exceptionally important one. We are to pray for our forgiveness, but in a way that it ties it to how we have forgiven others of their sins against us. Now, if this were the only time something like this appears in Scripture I would say that there is another way of reading this in the original language that doesn’t somehow connect our forgiving others to His forgiveness of us, but it isn’t at all. Jesus says point blank in Matthew 7:1-2 and Luke 6:37-38 that we are not to condemn or judge because we will be judged by our own standards. So with several passages point blank telling us the same thing, then it is up to us to respond appropriately. But what does this look like to actually live this way, and how do we accomplish it.
The blues musician Johnny Lang sings in an album he wrote after his conversion “Take care of your own back yard,” as he talks about the speck and plank problem that we all seem to have. The way this relates to the forgiveness petition in the Lords Prayer is that judgement seems to be our first reaction when we see others problems, but forgiveness and grace seem to be lagging far behind. This is a very big problem, but I would like to let you know its not to big for God to deal with. Its just a part of fallen humanity, and exactly why we are told to pray this prayer this way.
So besides changing our nature, how do we start living this out. First we have to fast for 17 days, then we have to get rid of all earthly possessions, and finally we have to walk around in camel hair clothes (burlap with do if camel hair is cost prohibitive). JUST KIDDING! No, the way we live this out is the same way we do anything as a child of God, we focus completely on Him. When we set our eyes on God, then we see our sins, which causes us to seek His mercy, which begins to change our hearts, which makes us have the grace filled hearts that naturally forgive. Once again its not magic, its completely a relationship thing. And it all begins by seeking God.