"I maybe could have forgiven you if you had not hurt me so badly..."
Our former pastor would always refer to our church in the following manner - "It is a place to love and be loved and to serve and be served." Every time he would say that, I drew immeasurable comfort from those words. However, one thing was missing - and it was the one thing that eventually split the church. He needed to add, "it is also a place to forgive and be forgiven."
We know how important love is in the Bible. In Matthew 22, 37-40, Jesus taught us the two most important commandments were as follows:
"You shall love the Lord you God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it, you shall love your neighbor as yourself..."
Seems clear to me. Love is given a very high place in the Word of God. But what about this forgiveness thing? This is one that most of us, that I, fail on often.
Well, the Bible has what I call a "trapdoor" on this one. Many of us have prayed the Lord's Prayer for years. We learned it as children. To some it has become rote, to others, every word has special meaning.
In Matthew 6, Jesus taught his followers how to pray. This was the start of reciting the Lord's Prayer. It is a beautiful prayer and most know it by heart. However, in verse 12 lies the "trapdoor". The words in that verse address forgiveness. We are asking God to forgive us our sins (transgressions) in the same manner we forgive those who sin against us. It was not until later in life I realized the profundity of that one simple sentence. We can choose not to forgive others, but we have prayed in the Lord's Prayer that God use the same yardstick on us.
I love the Bible for many reasons. It has been described as a book of history as well as mystery. I love the parables, I love the stories. They teach us all such valuable lessons. Most of all, I love the simple wisdom that only divine intervention could have incorporated into this Book of Life.
To love and be loved, to serve and be served, and to forgive as we have been forgiven. What an awesome way to live our lives. What an awesome world we would have if we did live our lives that way!