Thursday, 10 February 2011
'Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us'
To be honest I never use the word trespasses here,instead I would use the word sins which has the same meaning.Having already spoken to God as Father,worshipped him as Lord of all,asked that his kingdom and will would be done on earth and requested that he would provide for our needs, we now can, on the authority of Jesus who told us to pray this prayer, ask him that our sins be forgiven.Once we have asked we can be assured that he will forgive us. What a joy that is! The richest or most famous person on earth for all their glory, without Christ can not know the joy of knowing their sins forgiven.How much do you think they would have to pay to know that? In fact no amount of money could pay the price for our sins,as the children's hymn makes clear:
'There was no other good enough to pay the price of sin, he ( Christ) only could unlock the gate of heaven and let us in.'
But does God also forget- or does He always remember our sins so when we go to pray we still feel guilty and ashamed? Psalm 103 declares: 'As far as the East lies from the West so far has he removed our transgressions form us.' That's pretty far! God again says in Isaiah 44:'I have swept away your offenses like a cloud, your sins like the morning mist' and the prophet Micah also states:'He will again have compassion on us, And will subdue our iniquities. You will cast all our sins Into the depths of the sea.'
Before I could drive a car I used to love sitting in the passenger's seat and look out at the sea as we would travel along a coast road. It brought a real sense of calm to my heart and I could then visualise all my sins in the depths of the Irish Sea or the Atlantic Ocean - never to be brought up again.I was forgiven by God and he wasn't going to bring them out to haunt me.It you don't live near the sea you might like to click on the photo above to make it larger then imagine your sins being cast by God into the depths of the sea.
There is an apocryphal story of a woman who lived in the south of Ireland who claimed to have had visions of Jesus. The Bishop got to hear of this and told her that the next time she had a vision of Jesus she was to ask him to tell her what sins the Bishop had confessed at his last Confession.Sure enough she had another vision and she requested that the Bishop come round to her house. He then asked her to tell him what Jesus had said when she asked him what sins the Bishop had last confessed. She replied: 'He said:"I don't remember".' So it is, as this story makes clear, God both forgives and forgets.
The Rev. William Still of Aberdeen was always concerned that many sincere Christians became too preoccupied with their past sins instead of focusing on their new life in Christ.In exposing the folly of this he gave the example of the a man who would normally keep himself clean and tidy but while gardening got his hands covered in muck. When he went inside he went straight to the tap and with soap and water washed the muck away.Did he then become preoccupied with the dirt on his hands and bemoan the fact his hands had been dirty? Of course not! And neither should we once we have asked for forgiveness: our sins like the dirt have been washed way and should be forgotten.
Having been forgiven so much it is our obligation then to forgive the sins of others as he has forgiven us.Stephen,like his Master before him, forgave those who stoned him to death, and from that Saul was later to become the great apostle Paul.