Matthew 6:12 – Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. (NIV)
It began as a good day, those many years ago. Behind the steering wheel of my brother's car, I was about to have my first lesson in learning to drive. Beside me in the passenger side sat my brother and teacher. The car was parked at the end of the wide, gravel driveway of our country home. It was a lovely spot with the spacious, green lawn and numerous shady, black walnut trees surrounding us.
My brother carefully instructed me on how to push in the clutch before moving the gear shift. It was a standard shift, and he warned me that if I failed to use the clutch correctly, it could cause damage to the transmission. If I erred, it would take him a couple of days to repair the mechanism. I had learned about the placement of where the gears needed to go, so I began with a reasonable amount of confidence. But I didn't do it right. And what he had warned me about happened! There was a horrible grinding sound! Now he would have to spend many hours repairing my glaring mistake! He sighed. That was all. He just sighed and said nothing more about it — not one word over the many years.
He never once blamed me for what I had done. I felt that I deserved some serious words of reprimand, but it just didn't happen. It's more than sixty years since then, and I've never forgotten his kindness.
That day, I learned a much more important lesson than that of how to drive. I learned about grace and forgiveness. My brother taught me about those qualities.
Forgiveness brings healing and opens the door to reconciliation. There is wisdom in bringing into the open those things which can be changed. But when the past can't be changed, it helps us when we are forgiving. Grudges, resentment, and vengeful thoughts toward others impose a sharp cutting edge. The pain inflicted lands largely on oneself. Forgiveness brings healing and new life.
My brother had given me a glimpse of the grace and forgiveness that God offers us when we come to Him and tell Him of that which we have done wrong or have failed to do right. God is incredibly generous and forgives us without exception. When we tilt our hearts toward Him and bring Him our debts (or trespasses, or sins), God forgives us freely.
The forgiveness God gives, and our forgiveness of others and of self, form a perfect circle that speaks of God's love and grace.
Prayer: God of grace, help us to be open and honest with You about those matters that need Your forgiveness. Help us to believe in Your forgiveness and to extend it to others and to ourselves, as You would have us to do. Amen.