One thing we pray for in the Lord’s Prayer, is that God would forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who have sinned against us. The Westminster Shorter Catechism draws out an important aspect of what we should mean when making this petition: “We pray, that God, for Christ’s sake, would freely pardon all our sins; which we are the rather encouraged to ask, because by his grace we are enabled from the heart to forgive others.”
The encouragement for boldly asking God to forgive our sins, arises from His grace within us enabling us to forgive others. You know that the God who forgives is at work within you when you are eager to forgive those who trespass against you, and thus have a clear conscience in asking God to forgive your trespasses.
But there’s a striking phrase in there that deserves our attention, we’re to forgive others from the heart. Forgiveness isn’t like a vending machine: money in, thingamajig out. Once, some MIT students built a restaurant run by robotics. No waiters or cooks needed, just swipe your card & 10 minutes later, out comes your robot-made pizza. That’s like forgiveness that isn’t from the heart. The meal might arrive hot & ready to eat, but the heart is missing.
True forgiveness is like the homemaker who pours her love into hand-kneading dough, slicing ingredients, and patiently watching it bake. The meal will arrive just like the robot pizza, but the difference is that along with the meal, sincere love for the eaters comes along compliments of the chef.
This meal is God’s token that you’re forgiven, and He means it. It isn’t mere formality or ritual. Nor are there clouds of suspicion hanging over you. He’s made a meal for us, and delights to commune with us. Through Christ, we taste true forgiveness, so that we might share that recipe even with our worst enemies.
So come in faith and welcome to Jesus…