January 08, 2020 – Wednesday
From March 5, 2019 through January 7, 2020 the focus of the Verse of the Day has been the many instances in the Old and the New Testaments where obedience (from To obey is better than sacrifice in 1 Samuel 15:22) was mentioned with few exceptions. Today begins something new where the Verse of the Day will address subjects in both the Old and New Testaments as the Spirit moves me instead of sticking to a subject that may last ten months or longer. You are invited to send in a request on any Biblical topic you would like to see addressed as well. Today I am off to the races with two verses that I feel are all too often neglected on what they are really saying.
Matthew 6:14-15 NIV
14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.
15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
Matthew 6:14-15 NASB
14 For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.
15 But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.
Before discussing the two verses let’s take a look at the word translated as sin in the NIV and as transgressions in the NASB. Here at BibleGateway.com 25 versions used trespasses, 19 used sin, 7 used wrongs, 6 used offenses, 3 used transgressions, and 1 used faults. A few used two with the second following the first in parenthesis.
The Greek transliterated word is paraptoma used above as sin and as transgressions is defined by Strong’s as (unintentional) error or (wilful) transgression:—fall, fault, offence, sin, trespass; while Vine’s Dictionary defines it as primarily “a false step, a blunder,” lit., “a fall beside,” used ethically, denotes “a trespass,” a deviation, from uprightness and truth. Truth be known most people know what Jesus is talking about here – if we have wronged God (in whatever way) and want His forgiveness we must (!) forgive those who have wronged us.
Really paying attention to what we are being told by Jesus can cause real dismay among Christians, us. Edward Hinson and James Borland in their book of commentary ‘The Gospel of Matthew, The King is Coming’ ask and answer the following question: Is Jesus saying that an unforgiving person cannot be saved? I don’t know what your answer would be, but the authors were emphatic in their answer: Yes, basically He is! If someone cannot forgive others, Jesus says, it proves that he has never really experienced the forgiveness of God in his own life. Likewise, if one is really saved, he knows God’s forgiveness and cleansing in such a personal way that he cannot refuse to forgive others for their faults.
Being honest we all, every single one of us, know we need forgiveness from God for our sins, trespasses, offenses, transgressions against Him. We know that and it is easy for us to understand. What’s difficult is to understand is His forgiveness requires us to forgive those who have sinned against us, after all some of those sins against us are pretty darn big. In fact reading here we find Augustine described this as “the terrible petition.” It is terrible, because if we are not careful, we may end up asking God not to forgive us. And it went further with a description by Martin Luther describing what an unforgiving person saying this prayer would in effect be saying: “O God, I am your debtor, and I also have a debtor; I am not willing to forgive him, therefore don’t forgive me either; I will not obey you even though you would pardon me; I would rather renounce your heaven and everything else, and go to the devil”
In the two verses above there are no ifs, buts, or except for, there is only the very clear statement “If we are to be forgiven, we must forgive.” Hard to swallow maybe until we consider what the evangelist John Stott had to say about it: Once our eyes have been opened to see the enormity of our offence against God, the injuries which others have done to us appear by comparison extremely trifling. If, on the other hand, we have an exaggerated view of the offences of others, it proves that we have minimized our own.
We cannot minimize our own sins, for they are the sins that put Jesus on the cross to pay the price for our sins. Knowing this we are instructed to take the initiative and forgive those we understandably do not wish to forgive. As hard as it may be, a joy follows when we realize in the depths of our souls God has really and truly forgiven us our own sins against Him.
We are not robots or automatons, we have free will and the act of forgiveness on our part is clearly an expression of that free will. That is especially true when our forgiveness is given in even when there is great pain, anger, and hurt. As a result we not only receive that incredible forgiveness from God, but also when we forgive, the poison of bitterness and hate we carried around inside our hearts, minds, and souls leaves us permitting healing to take place in our lives without such poison.
Bottom line: Choose forgiveness and be forgiven.