Giving and receiving forgiveness

Posted By | June 6, 2019 10:38 am

Playl’s Ponderings – By Steve Playl

When His disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray, He gave them a model to go by.  Commonly referred to as “The Lord’s Prayer,” it includes a phrase that – throughout the centuries – has been the subject of much discussion. In the English language, that part of the prayer is repeated in different words by different people.

Presbyterians, and a few others, say, “… forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.”

So does the King James Version of the Bible.

Many other Christian denominations use the words, “…forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.”

However, the real issue is not the wording, interpretation, or translation, but the difficulty in putting those very simple words into practice. Are any of us willing to pray that God would forgive us with an amount of forgiveness no greater than the forgiveness with which we forgive others? OUCH!

To illustrate my question and the point I hope to make, let me use two of my grandchildren for an example. Surprised? Probably not!

Anyway, the Playl boys – Grayson and Anderson – were spending a couple of days with us while their parents were out of the country for a wedding. Nahnee and I and the boys were headed across town to a favorite restaurant for dinner when Anderson posed a question…just out of the blue…

“Nahnee, remember when Grayson yelled at you and you had him write sentences to show he was sorry?” The question recalled an incident that occurred nearly a year earlier.

“Have you forgiven him for yelling?”

“Of course I have,” she answered. “We always forgive those we love. In fact, we even have to forgive our enemies…if we want to be like Jesus.”

Her teacher mode kicked in, and she added, “Remember, Jesus taught us that we have to forgive if we want to be forgiven? We must forgive those that hurt us, if we expect God to forgive us when we do wrong.”

They remembered hearing those truths taught at home and at church.

Always eager to contribute to the conversation, 8-year-old Grayson offered to share an experience from earlier in the school year. One day in the school cafeteria, his lunch tray was knocked from his hands by another student who was waving his arms as he spoke with his friends. It was an accident. The other boy had not seen G walking behind him. Still it was a very embarrassing moment for the new boy that had recently moved to suburban Nashville.

Grayson could have yelled at the boy or even started a fight…but he didn’t do either. Instead he went back through the line and had his tray refilled.

The other boy could have laughed at the new kid’s lunch on the floor, with his friends chiming in…but he didn’t either. Instead, when Grayson came by with a new tray, he apologized and explained that it was an accident.

“I forgave him!” Grayson proclaimed, “…and he invited me to sit with him. Now he is one of my best friends.”

Forgiveness works! Yes, sometimes it is difficult to put into practice, but it still works. How do we, as adults, measure up? Remember to pray the words Jesus taught us to pray, “And forgive us our debts (sins, trespasses, shortcomings, wrong deeds, failures), as we forgive…”

Steve Playl, chaplain, columnist, college instructor and former pastor,

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