Introduction “Our Father Who Art In Heaven”

Introduction to “Our Father Who Art In Heaven”

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"Our Father Who Art In Heaven"

By Ron Christian

"This, then, is how you should pray:

"Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one."

Matthew 6:9-13 (NIV)

“Forgive Us Our Debts As We Forgive Our Debtors”

"Forgive Us Our Debts As We Forgive Our Debtors"

"OUR FATHER WHO ART IN HEAVEN"


CHAPTER 8 – OUTLINE

SUBJECT: Pray This Way – "Forgive Us Our Debts As We Forgive Our Debtors"

SCRIPTURE: Matthew 6:9-13

TEXT: "Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors." (Matthew 6:12)

INTRODUCTION:

The sins of omission become very real to a Christian when he realizes that his labors never repay the debt of love he owes to God.

PROPOSITION:

Let us look carefully at this petition and seek to discover its true meaning.

I. Purpose of Petition – 'Forgive Us Our Debts'

A. Perfection in Love

B. Imperfection in Judgment and Conduct

II. Proposition In the Petition – 'As We Forgive Our Debtors'

A. Necessity of Forgiving Spirit

B. Aids to Forgiving Spirit

1. There is need for Understanding

2. There is need for Forgetfulness

3. There is need for Love

CONCLUSION:

"The Christian must pray this prayer meaningfully to be kept from pride, harshness of spirit, and a score of other attitudes which may subtlety overtake those who lose sight of the fact that the treasure of grace is in an earthen vessel." (Bishop Donald Bastian)

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"OUR FATHER WHO ART IN HEAVEN"


CHAPTER 8

SUBJECT: Pray This Way – "Forgive Us Our Debts As We Forgive Our Debtors"

SCRIPTURE: Matthew 6:9-13

TEXT: "Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors." (Matthew 6:12)

INTRODUCTION:

Man has a basic need of forgiveness. The Christian is no exception. The Christian needs constantly to feel that his life is cleansed by Christ's blood. When guilt plagues the life, physical and mental illness are often times the result, in addition to spiritual illness.

Because the Christian life is a love relationship between man and God, the Christian always feels a sense of debt to God. A Christian is always in debt to God's love. The sins of omission become very real to a Christian when he realizes that his labors never repay the debt of love he owes to God. Therefore, there is a place in the Christian's prayer for the petition: "Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.'

PROPOSITION:

Let us look carefully at this petition and seek to discover its true meaning. On our commentary on the phrase – 'Forgive us our debts' – we will discuss the purpose of the petition, and in our commentary on the phrase – 'as we forgive our debtors' – we will discuss the proposition in the petition.

I. PURPOSE OF PETITION – 'FORGIVE US OUR DEBTS'

The word which is translated 'debt' in this petition means 'a failure to pay that which is due, a failure in duty.' A genuine Christian never feels that he has been completely successful in fulfilling his duty to God and man. There is no man who perfectly attains unto the holy standard of God. Therefore, it is the Christian's duty to confess his weaknesses, limitations, and failures in duty. There are two kinds of perfection – the perfection in love and the perfection in judgment and conduct. The Bible teaches that it is possible for man to attain unto perfection in love. However, the Bible does not teach that man will be perfect in judgment and conduct while residing on this earth. In our attempt to better understand the purpose of this petition, let us briefly discuss these two types of perfection.

A. Perfection In Love.

Jesus commanded Christians to be perfect even as the Father in Heaven is perfect (Matthew 5:48). Surely Christ was not expecting man to be perfect in every way as God Himself is perfect. By nature, God alone is absolutely perfect.

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In comparison to God, man is very imperfect. What then did Jesus mean when He commanded man to be perfect? Surely, in comparison to God, man can only enjoy a relative perfection. The perfection which Jesus expects of man, is the perfection of love. Jesus commanded man to be perfect in love: "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment, and the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets." (Matthew 22:37-40) Paul preached love also: "Love worketh no ill to his neighbor: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law."

In the third chapter of Philippians, Paul spoke of two kinds of perfection. In Philippians 3:12 he says: "Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect." In Philippians 3:15 he says, "Let us therefore, as many as be perfect." Paul did not claim to be perfect in judgment and conduct, but Paul did claim to be among that group who claimed perfection in love.

The Bible does teach that one can be perfect in love. The Bible does teach that one can be delivered from the carnal traits of the flesh and mind. The Bible does teach, as John Church has noted, that God can deliver one from the fit of anger, the fit of the pouts, the fit of jealousy, and the fit of stubbornness. The Bible does teach that man can be enabled to have harmonious and loving relationships with his fellowmen.

B. Imperfection In Judgment and Conduct

While man may be perfect in love, he will never be perfect in judgment and conduct. Such perfection belongs only to God. The most sanctified man will make errors in judgment and conduct.

As has already been pointed out, every Christian must confess his faults and blunders and his failures in duty. What man can say that he could not have done more for God, or more for his fellowmen? Who can claim to have always performed perfect service to God and man? With the best of intentions, man can blunder and falter in judgment and conduct.

How often we make hasty judgments of people without sufficient knowledge even to form a judgment. What a different world this would be if we would restrain ourselves and withhold any judgment on others.

"Has God deserted Heaven? 
And left it up to you, 
To judge if this or that is right, 
And what each one should do?

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I think He's still in business, 
And knows when to wield the rod, 
So when you're judging others, 
Just remember, you're not - God."

(God's Psychiatry; p. 116)

As Christians, we sometimes expect more of people than what God Himself expects of them. Many Christians have pronounced judgment upon a person, only to find out later that such judgment was unjust and the cause of humiliation.

John R. Church tells an incident out of the life of D.L. Moody when Moody was at a Mission in Chicago one Sunday afternoon. "When he walked in (the mission), there was a man on the floor testifying to what God had done for him. He had been saved from a life of drunkenness and vile sin. Mr. Moody said that there was a glory and radiance about the man that was heavenly, and that he had never felt the power of God more in a person's testimony. Mr. Moody made up his mind that he wanted to know this man better. He went up and got acquainted, and they decided they would walk back up town together. When they came out of the Mission and started up town the man stopped and bought some fruit at a stand on the street. Mr. Moody was shocked that the man should break the Sabbath by buying something that was unnecessary. He began to feel that the man might not be such a great saint after all. Then the Holy Spirit checked him and reminded him of the fact that this man had just come from a life of vile sinfulness, and that he did not have the teaching and the background that Mr. Moody had. The remembrance of this saved him from judging the brother too harshly. If we would only do the same it would make us more charitable toward our fellow man." (Earthen Vessels; pgs. 12, 13)

We need to ask God to forgive us when we fail to give to our fellowmen, the benefit of the doubt. We need to ask God to forgive us when we play the role of judge, a role which belongs solely to God.

We are not only imperfect in judgment, but oftentimes we are very imperfect in conduct. A sanctified Christian's imperfect conduct can give offense to his fellowmen. Impulsive language and impatient conduct is the plight of even the sanctified Christian. Patience is a trait that every Christian must cultivate in his life. The Christian seeks, throughout his entire life time, to improve his conduct. Wrote Peter, "And besides this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience Godliness' and to Godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity." (2 Peter 1:5-7)

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Sharp differences in opinion can sometimes sever-strong-willed Christians. The contention between Paul and Barnabas was so great that they parted company John Mark going with Barnabas and Silas going with Paul. Later, however, Paul wrote saying, "Bring John Mark with you, for he is profitable unto me." Says John Church about this, "He (Paul) confessed that he was wrong and Barabbas was right. To my mind that is the real proof that you have the right kind of experience, when you are willing to confess and to make things right. It is human to err, but a real mark of greatness is the willingness to confess and to make things right!" (Earthen Vessels; p. 39)

John Church goes on to give an illustration of how a sanctified person can be wrong in his conduct, and what a sanctified Christian should do in such a case. "I think if I have ever seen a person who was really sanctified, that person was 'Uncle Buddie' Robinson. He was one of the sweetest, most Christlike men I have ever known; and yet I have heard him tell of a ticket agent who tried his patience so that he spoke too hastily and had to go back and apologize for the way he spoke. Now the fact that he spoke that way was no indication that he had carnality in his heart, but it was merely proof of the fact that he was still human." (Earthen Vessels; p. 39)

If there are outbursts of impatience or other manifestations of human weakness in one's conduct, there should always be the prayer of confession: 'Forgive us our debts'. The Christian may claim perfection in love, but he dare not claim perfection in judgment and in conduct. Therefore, the Christian must pray the prayer of confession.

II. PROPOSITION IN THE PETITION – 'AS WE FORGIVE OUR DEBTORS'.

A. Necessity of Forgiving Spirit.

In this petition there is a proposition. When we come to this part of The Lord's Prayer, we might say that we are making a proposition with God. We are proposing to God that He forgive our transgressions and debts "in proportion as we forgive those who have sinned against us." (Barclay's Matthew; p. 223) What a frightening proposition! It means that to hold any grudges against our fellowmen is in reality to forfeit the possibility of our sins being forgiven by God. "For if you forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses." (Barclay's Matthew; p. 223) What a frightening proposition! It means that to hold any grudges against our fellowmen is in reality to forfeit the possibility of our sins being forgiven by God. As Barclay says, "It is, therefore, quite clear that, if we pray this petition with an unhealed breach, an unsettled quarrel in our lives, we are asking God not to forgive unhealed breach, an unsettled quarrel in our lives, we are asking God not to forgive us." (Barclay's Matthew; p. 223) Therefore, it is essential that we always have a forgiving spirit

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if we expect God to forgive us. "And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses." (Mark 11:25)

One is not fit to pray the Lord's Prayer if he has an unforgiving spirit "When Robert Lewis Stevenson lived in the South Sea Island he used always to conduct family worship in the mornings for his household. It always concluded with the Lord's Prayer. One morning in the middle of the Lord's Prayer he rose from his knees and left the room. His health was always precarious, and his wife followed him thinking that he was ill. 'Is there anything wrong?' she said. 'Only this,' said Stevenson, 'I am not fit to pray the Lord's Prayer today.' No one is fit to pray the Lord's Prayer so long as the unforgiving spirit holds sway within his heart. If a man has not put things right with his fellowmen, he cannot put things right with God. (Barclay's Matthew; p. 224)

B. Aids to Forgiving Spirit.

Barclay suggests three things that are necessary if we are to have this Christian forgiveness. Let us look at each of these things.

1. There is need for Understanding.

How much easier it would be to forgive our fellowmen, if we would seek better to understand the motives for their behavior. Impoliteness may be caused by worry or pain. Suspicion may be caused by misinformation. Impatience may be caused by bad nerves. James Fraser, a missionary who worked hard and prayed intensely for his people, one day lost his temper in the presence of the very people to whom he was ministering. His problem was not primarily spiritual; his problem was physical. He had worked so hard and had prayed so long that he had failed to get sufficient exercise and fresh air. (Alive To God Through Prayer; p. 126) To understand the cause for one's behavior is to be aided in developing the forgiving spirit. How much easier it would be to forbear with one another, if we sought to understand the personality make-up and the behavioral motives of those with whom we differ. E. Stanley Jones has a prayer in one of his devotional books that is worthy of our attention: "0 God, I come to thee to gain understanding sympathy. I am resentful because I don't understand. Give me clear insight and sympathy that I may read in the lives of others the things that make them unattractive to me. And when I understand, help me to forgive. For Jesus' sake. Amen." (Abundant Living; p. 62)

2. There is need for Forgetfulness.

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If God hides our sins in the sea of His forgetfulness, should we not also seek not only to forgive but also to forget the wrongs others have inflicted upon us? We must constantly seek to develop the capacity to forget as well as to forgive. The attitude of E. Stanley Jones would be good for all of us to develop. Someone once said to him, "I don't think you know when you are insulted." Jones replied, "I am not looking for insults and so don't see them." (Abundant Living; p. 63)

Barclay illustrates this point. "One the famous Scottish men of letters, Andrew Lang, wrote and published a very kind review of a book by a young man. The young man repaid him with a bitter, insolent, and insulting attack. About three years later Andrew Lang was staying with Robert Bridges, the Poet Laureate. Bridges saw Lang reading a certain book. 'Why', he said, 'that's another book by that ungrateful young cub who behaved so shamefully to you.' To his astonishment he found that Andrew Lang's mind was a blank on the whole affair. He had completely forgotten the bitter and insulting attack. To forgive, said Bridges, was the sign of a great man, but to forget was sublime. Nothing but the cleansing spirit of Christ can take from these memories of ours the old bitterness that we must forget." (Barclay's Matthew; p. 225)

3. There is need for Love.

The greatest aid in developing the forgiving spirit is love. Christian love is not merely a feeling of emotion. Rather, it is a quality which is given by God and which must be exercised by the will. Barclay defines this love as "that unconquerable benevolence, that undefeatable good-will, which will never seek anything but the highest good of others, no matter what they do to us, and no matter how they treat us." (Barclay's Matthew; p. 225)

Stanley Jones tells the story of an Armenian girl who learned to exercise love for an enemy, and was consequently able to forgive. "She and her brother had been attacked by Turks in a lane, and while she had escaped by climbing over a wall, her brother had been brutally killed before her eyes. She was a nurse, and later on while nursing in the hospital recognized one of her patients as the very Turkish soldier who had murdered her brother. Her first feeling was: Revenge! He was very ill, just hovering between life and death. The slightest neglect and he would die. And no one would know. His life was absolutely in her hands. But instead of revenge she decided for Christ's sake to forgive him. She fought for his life and won, nursing him back to health. When he was convalescent, she told him who she was. The Turkish soldier looked at her in astonishment and said, 'Then why didn't you let me die, when you had me in your power?' 'I couldn't,' answered the girl. 'I just couldn't,

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for I am a Christian, and my own Master forgave His enemies who crucified Him. I must do the same for His sake.' 'Well,' said the hardened Turk in astonishment, 'if that is what it means to be a Christian, I want to be one.'" (Abundant Living; p. 59)

Love is the greatest aid in forgiving hurts and wrongs. Exercise love then every moment of every day. "Leave vengeance to God – use only redemptive good will." (Ibid; 63)

CONCLUSION:

To ask forgiveness means to acknowledge that we have faults which are hidden from our own eyes, but which are not hidden from the eyes of God and from the eyes of our fellow men. Because the Christian acknowledges that he has errors in judgment and errors in conduct, he will be ready to confess his faults to God and to his fellowmen. Bastian well summaries the purpose of this petition: "In fact, the Christian must pray this prayer meaningfully to be kept from pride, harshness of sprit, and a score of other attitudes which may subtly overtake those who lose sight of the fact that the treasure of grace is in an earthen vessel." (The Mature Church Member; by Bishop Donald Bastian; p. 114)

The preposition in this petition is frightening – forgive us as we forgive! This is a prayer that God will forgive us in proportion as we have forgiven our fellowman. How carefully we should pray The Lord's Prayer! To maintain the forgiving spirit, we must learn to understand the motives by which others behave; we must learn to forget the wrongs which others have done to us; we must learn to return good for evil, thus developing the redemptive good will.

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