The Lord’s Prayer, Fifth Petition
And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.
Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.
What does this mean? We pray in this petition that our Father in heaven would not look at our sins, or deny our prayer because of them. We are neither worthy of the things for which we pray, nor have we deserved them, but we ask that He would give them all to us by grace, for we daily sin much and surely deserve nothing but punishment. So we too will sincerely forgive and gladly do good to those who sin against us.The Fifth Petition
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What’s harder for you to do, to forgive or to receive forgiveness? Both can be hard, but this prayer reminds us that the giving and receiving of forgiveness are intimately connected. Just as we love because God first loved us, we can only forgive because we are first forgiven through Christ’s redemptive work on the cross on our behalf.
We daily pray “forgive us our sins.” We know that we are in desperate need of forgiveness. Sometimes we carry the burden of our sin like an extra appendage and don’t want to let it go. We feel that maybe we don’t deserve forgiveness and we would be right. We are unworthy. But through Christ we have forgiveness apart from our worthiness.
How are we on that second part, “as we forgive those who sin against us”? Just as we are sometimes apt to hold onto our own sins, we are even more prone to hold on to the wrongs done against us. Just as I don’t always want to accept forgiveness, sometimes I most definitely don’t want to give it. When I get to this place in the prayer, I sometimes want to swallow these words.
How do you handle forgiveness in your classroom? What’s your process for children to reconcile after a wrong has been committed?
When our children were little and they had wronged one another, we taught them to repent (say they were sorry) and then the child who had been wronged was instructed to say, “You’re forgiven.” Their first instinct was often to say, “It’s okay,” but that’s very different than saying, “You’re forgiven.” “It’s okay” implies that what the other person did, didn’t matter, and frankly, it’s not forgiveness. It’s much easier to say, “It’s okay” than to say, “You’re forgiven.” Our sinful nature doesn’t want to forgive. We want to hold onto those sins against us and stack them up and store them away to use against the person later on. But we forget that when we stubbornly withhold forgiveness, we also then reject forgiveness for ourselves—ouch!
Ephesians 4:32 reminds us Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
It is only through Christ that we are forgiven and that we can forgive others. What a cause for celebration! We have such a unique and glorious opportunity in our Lutheran schools to model this forgiveness on a daily basis with our students. Our classrooms are full of sinners, and thanks be to Jesus, we are forgiven sinners full of forgiveness to give. We are about more than just teaching reading, writing, math, science, and social studies. While those things are important, and we want to make sure we teach them well, we have the added joy of sharing God’s forgiveness in Jesus. It’s our not-so-secret ingredient.
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