Matthew 6 / January 21st, 2018 / Todd Gray
Just like we all have physical needs, we have spiritual needs. Prayer is our spiritual supply line to God. If we have a strong supply line through prayer, we have a stronger relationship with God. This week, Pastor Todd talks about the importance of having our needs met and how forgiving others can have a huge impact on your life.
- Pray for Provision (Matthew 6:11)
- Seek Forgiveness in Prayer (Matt 6:12)
If you brought a Bible with you, I literally pray that you bring it, because there’s so much in it, that you’re going to learn from it, and you need to have it with you, you need to hold it, you need to read it, you need to mark it, you need to take notes with it. Open it to Matthew 6, verses 11 and 12. We continue in our battle plan series, where we’re coming up or putting together, as a congregation, a battle plan of prayer that we are going to use, I pray that we use, as a model, maybe for the rest of our lives, but for sure, as we enter into this prayer season that we’re going to all kind of commit to together when we walk through the book, the battle plan for prayer, starting on February 4th.
We’ve already started to insert our own prayers into this model prayer. Last week we started with God and how he has priority, and he has our praise, and we want his will to be done, and now let’s move into the Lord’s Prayer in verse 11 and 12. We’re going to be considering two more important aspects of prayer. One, provision, that’s your daily needs, what you need, and two, reconciliation through forgiveness. These two components are key to you surviving in this war that you are in. Every battlefield commander knows that if you can attack those two things in a army or a war-fighting machine, that you can win the war without ever firing a bullet.
You say, “Pastor, what do you mean by that?” Well, take for example, if you’re in a long battle, an extended war scene, and you can cut off the enemy’s supply lines. What are they going to do? They’re going to die on their own. Or what if you can get the enemy to turn on each other? We see that in the Bible, don’t we? Sometimes God finds a victory in the Old Testament, and the Israelites don’t do anything. The enemy, whoever they are, they kind of just start destroying themselves.
This is no better seen than in the country of Russia. Russia is the best in their homeland at winning the war of attrition. You don’t just go into Russia thinking you’re going to win a war. It doesn’t happen, but Napoleon thought he could find a victory in Russia, and in 1812 he thought he’d give it a shot. He was going to go into Russia and kind of show them who was boss. He was full with pride. He saw many other victories, so he takes his little hand in his vest, I guess, and he gets on his horse. You know Napoleon, come on. You all think of this when you think of Napoleon. If students are looking at me blind, you need to start studying some more history, okay?
So Napoleon gets on his horse, and he takes hundreds of thousands of men, and they invade Mother Russia, and the Russians, when they arrived, they kind of started acting like they were retreating. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen a coyote do this. Sometimes a coyote would do this. He’ll lure your dog like this sometimes. I hope this doesn’t happen to you. A coyote, there’ll be a pack of them, maybe, in the woods, and then one of them will come out and then act like it’s scared of whatever animal they’re trying to lure that’s a little provoked. And then they’ll start turning away and running, and where they’re running is to where? Their pack. And once that unsuspecting animal, whether it be a dog or whatever, gets to the pack, what happens? Whoom, it’s over. They destroy him.
This is what Russia was doing to Napoleon’s army. They were kind of retreating, saying, “Oh no, no. We don’t want you to win. We’re going to retreat.” And Napoleon got all fired up and kept moving forward. In fact, Napoleon saw many victories, all along the way, but all the while he was moving closer to his doom. Russia knew this. He did not. They even took Moscow. Think about that for a second. Napoleon rode in, took the City of Moscow, but while they were winning the victory in Moscow, Russian troops were behind the Napoleon soldiers, destroying the supply lines. In fact, they destroyed some of their supplies that they brought with them. So by the winter … it was an early winter … of October in 1812, Napoleon’s army had already lost 100,000 troops to the frigid nights and the rough terrain, and through having daily needs like food being destroyed.
By November, though Napoleon thought that he saw many victories, the whole army that he brought with him, they were seeing thousands of men and horses die every single night. So they started to retreat themselves. Napoleon already abandoned his command, gave it to somebody else, and not only did they leave Russia with a tail whipping, this was the beginning of the end of Napoleon’s campaign to rule the world.
Now how did Russia win this war of attrition? They weren’t superior in their fighting. They hardly fought at all. They weren’t even superior in numbers or military strategy, other than the strategy to cut off the supply lines, which is what they did. They attacked the daily needs, and what happened when they started attacking the daily needs and the Napoleon army started to die, what do you think happened to some of the commanders in the army? The troops started turning on them, and, in fact, some of the commanders started turning on Napoleon and left the war. It was a total loss, a substantial Russian victory.
And here’s where we get to Matthew 6. If prayer is your supply line to God for all of your daily needs, whether they be physical or spiritual, here’s all that Satan has to do. All he has to do is convince you to cut off the supply line to God, keep you too busy to pray, keep you too fat and happy and proud to pray, like you don’t need God. And then what he will do, he will watch you starve yourself to death spiritually. Not only will he cut off your supply line to God through whatever means, through your pride or through your distraction, but what Satan will also do is show you that you don’t need daily forgiveness from God, nor do you need to forgive others. And he’ll convince you to drink that poison, and then once again, he doesn’t have to attack you. He can sit back and watch you die from the inside.
What I want to do in Matthew 6, verse 11 and 12, what I pray this week that the Holy Spirit would do in you, is restore these supply lines to God through prayer, to not let Satan distract you, not let Satan make you too busy and cut off these supply lines. I pray that you would no longer see your lack of a need for reconciliation, but you would see your desperate need to confess your sins to God, your desperate need to forgive other people in your life, so Satan has to try a little harder to destroy you and your spiritual life.
Let’s read this prayer together. Would you stand, and Matthew, Chapter 6. We’re going to read the whole prayer, and we’re going to focus on verse 11 and 12. Jesus says in Matthew 6:9, “Pray then in this way.” You can pray with me. “Our father, who is in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil, for yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.” You may be seated.
Remembering this is a model prayer, not just a prayer to be repeated, but I’m hoping by the time this series is over that you’ll have it memorized so that you won’t just say it, you will insert your life into it. Church, today, in this section, when you pray, I want you to ask for provision. I want you to seek reconciliation through forgiveness. Let’s start with provision in verse 11. This prayer started in verse 9 with God having the priority, but once God has the priority in your prayer, then we can get to verse 11, your needs. And I must say before we even get into your needs, I want to reemphasize this point. If you try to get to verse 11 without going through verse 9 and 10, you’re going to mess it all up. If you try to get to your needs or start your prayer with what you want and what you think you need before giving God the priority, your prayers are going to be selfish. Your prayers are going to be empty. They’re not going to be God-centered. They’re not going to consider God’s will, and so therefore, they’re not going to be effective.
But if you would start with God as the priority, meaning giving him the praise that he deserves, saying, “Hallowed be thy name,” truly, because he’s so awesome, wanting his will to be done, then by the time you get to what you want and what you need, you will have the proper perspective. I was talking to a man this week in our Life Group about this very idea. We were talking about how God has all the firsts, the first in the glory category, the first in the praise category, and the first in his will being done category. And then he said to me, he goes, “You know what, if God has these all these first aspects of your prayer, by the time that you get to your needs, you might just realize that you don’t need it very much, or that your needs don’t matter near as much as you thought they did. In fact, you may see what you came to God with a need as a greed, and not even mention it to God at all.”
This might happen with you in prayer. God is so magnificent and glorious in your life, by the time you get to this, you may have not much to say at all. Or if you do bring something with you, some of your daily bread, and you bring it to God, it’ll be in the proper perspective, and it will truly be a need and not just a greed. But yet so many of us spend the majority of our prayer running right to what we think we need, and mostly what we want, and we never consider God in it. God is a priority, then we can come to man’s needs properly and say, “Lord, give us this day our daily bread.”
Church, it’s not complicated. This is a pretty simple prayer provision, but there’s some pretty rich theological truths that I want you to see in this simple prayer provision. Number one, that everything that you get that is good comes from God. You’re asking God to give it to you, all of it that’s good came from him. What this will do, it’ll destroy your pride. It’s not your intelligence, it’s not your effort, it’s not your goodness, it’s not your greatness that earned it. It’s God’s greatness that gave it to you. He is the supplier, you are the receiver.
But then we see “daily bread”. I want you to see this daily bread from two different perspectives this morning. Number one, as physical need. That’s the priority of the text. Now, you as an American, we’re going to talk for a few minutes on how you don’t get this physical part of provision, but there’s also another aspect of it, not only physical provision but spiritual provision. Let’s start with the physical. Most Americans would say, “I really don’t pray for daily physical provision.” Why? Because you already have it. Most of you right now are not struggling today with what bread, literally, you’re going to eat tonight.
But 2000 years ago, the struggle was real. Starvation was a reality that many families faced. Bread is mentioned here because bread was cheap, bread was easy to make, and bread could fill the stomach so that the hunger pain would to away. Many families would only eat meat, 2000 years ago, once a week. If they’re a little bit more wealthy of a family, they would have meat every few days. You and I, we can eat meat whenever we want to, breakfast, lunch and dinner. You know the only people that could do that 2000 years ago? The super-wealthy or kings and queens. Here’s our struggle: we live as kings and queens physically, compared to history and compared to the rest of the world. This is a real problem. Most of you are like, “I don’t even eat bread. It’s got too many calories.” You think I’m joking? I know women … guys are probably like this too … but I don’t know what it is about women and they’re a little bit more open. I’ve heard women tell me this: “I haven’t eaten bread in years, because I had to maintain this body.”
Now, it’s funny, but think about the implications of that. What’s underneath that in our society and what they convince a woman that a woman should be, that her image is really that important that she can’t eat bread for years? That you’re a sexual object to be used by men in this world? Okay, that’s another sermon, but that’s a big problem. And those of you who do eat bread will be like, “Yeah, it’s got to be gluten-free,” and no, Mike, I’m not making fun of you. Some people can’t eat gluten. I get that. But some of you are like, “Oh no, I just can’t eat bread, and it’s got to be the bread that you get at so-and-so, limited run of whatever.”
Here’s my point. We don’t work to eat. 2000 years ago, when you went to work, most families, when the man went to work, he would literally bring the bacon home. Well, maybe not in a Jewish home, but he would literally bring the food home, and he would put that food that he plowed on the table. And if he went to work to make money, the primary reason that he needed money was to buy food. You do not struggle with that. Your biggest struggle is not if you’re going to eat, your biggest struggle is where am I going to eat today? You’re so wealthy, you don’t even know it. You go to restaurants where other people prepare your food for five times the cost that you could prepare it for at home.
That’s just how it works. I live in this world too. I’m not dogging on you. I’m just saying let’s embrace the reality that we’re in, physical prosperity and spiritual starvation. And here’s the reality of this text. The physical provision is the number one idea here, but the more that your physical provision needs are met, the more the spiritual provision you need to take from this text. But I don’t want you to ignore the physical provision either, because that’s the primary meaning of this text, and though you may not struggle with eating your next meal, there are people in this city … not a lot, probably, but there’s people in the city and the surrounding area, and surely around the world, that this is a major struggle for them.
And here’s the reality. We’re supposed to take the gospel to them. You need to understand them if you’re going to try to take the gospel to them. You need to realize this is a great need all across the world. So you may pray for your physical provision, and it be a quick check box, but you need to start praying for other people’s physical provision as well, because the people who are starving that you need to take the gospel to, they do not care how much you know about the gospel until they know how much you care about them. If you’re going to bring the gospel that brings satisfaction to their hungry soul, many times you might have to take the hunger pain in their stomach away first.
Those people who are starving today, who are dying of thirst, they’re probably not even thinking about the gospel. If they’re Christians, they’re probably not thinking that much about sharing the gospel. Sadly, some of them still do. It’s an amazing thing that God does in them. But many of them, I’ll tell you what they’re thinking about right now: I’m hungry. I wish I just had some bread to eat. This prayer means something for them. I’m thirsty. My mouth has been dry for weeks. Therefore, ministries that have the primary focus of meeting people’s food need, their clothing need, and digging wells so they can have something to drink, they’re worthy of your consideration.
But not alone, are they? Because once we fill the stomach, we must therefore then move to the soul. So if your stomach is full today, consider the empty stomachs of others that need the gospel, and also, let’s move from the physical stomach now to the spiritual stomach that I believe is all but starved to death in America today. If you have your belly full, then you need to look at this prayer from a spiritual provision concept. This is textually accurate. What does Jesus say in Matthew 6? “I am the bread of life,” meaning he wants you to consume him for spiritual provision. John 6:35, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will not hunger. He who believes in me will never thirst.” To consume the Lord Jesus daily in the context of this passage is what it means to have spiritual provision, first in salvation, then in daily sustainment.
If you’ve yet to confess Jesus Christ as your lord and savior, your spiritual provision starts with asking Jesus Christ for forgiveness, but Jesus assumes, in this prayer, salvation. So this is daily spiritual provision that goes throughout your life. Look what Jesus says in John 6 and verse 47: “Truly, truly I say to you, he who believes has eternal life.” Eternal spiritual provision. “I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate …” Now he uses manna as an illustration. This is going to mean something to you in a minute. “Your fathers ate manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread which comes down out of heaven so that one may eat of it and not die.” Now he transitions to himself. “I am the living bread,” spiritually, “that came down out of heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever, and the bread which I will give for the life of this world is my flesh.”
Church, to eat the bread of life is to be saved. Also, to eat the bread of life is to daily be spiritually satisfied. Therefore, in verse 11, we can connect the daily concept to the spiritual provision of the bread. Daily bread is continually relying on God, physically and spiritually. We are to seek God’s provision like the Israelites sought the manna every day when they were physically hungry in the desert. Do you remember how that worked? The Israelites, in the years of wandering, God gave them manna from heaven. They would look up, they would receive it, they would eat it, but here’s my question: could they store it? No, they couldn’t store it. They could have enough for that day, but if they tried to hoard it and bring it to their house, thinking they were going to live off this indulgence that they took in one day for the rest of the week, what would happen to that bread? It would go bad.
Every single day … Don’t miss this … every single day the Israelites had to come to God, look into heaven, expecting him to satisfy their physical needs. What Jesus is telling you here is you need to do this spiritually. If it’s daily bread, it means you need to come to God for spiritual provision every day. Now, here’s the struggle with many people who come to church today, if they even come every week. If they come every week, let’s just assume that, which many don’t. Many people think they can hoard it for a whole month, and it’s going to satisfy their spiritual hunger, but it won’t. But many of you who do come every week, if you think anything like I do, you think maybe I can come on a Sunday, and I can come to the buffet line of Christ, and I can just indulge, indulge, indulge, and stuff myself, and then survive off of that the rest of the week.
It doesn’t work like that like. Try it today at the buffet, physically. See if it works for you. Seriously, go to one of the Chinese buffets in town. There’s a couple of them. They’re all good. And look at the plethora of goodness before you. I mean, you got fried wontons, you got noodles, you got rice. Over and over again, you could keep coming back. Challenge yourself. Just go, eat as much as you can, keep filling up, just overindulge, and then stop eating after you’re done there. What’s going to happen in the morning? If you have a little stomach, you may make it till noon, but what’s going to eventually happen tomorrow? Grumble, grumble, grumble. Your stomach’s going to tell you you are hungry again and you must eat.
This is how it works spiritually. You cannot come to church on Sunday, overindulge and engorge yourself, and think you’re going to live off that the whole week long. Tomorrow, you will need Christ’s spiritual provision again. You will need the bread of life tomorrow again. So what you do is you come to him today, and he says, “Today has enough troubles of its own. Don’t worry about tomorrow. Come back to me tomorrow for the spiritual manna, and I will continue to feed you.” The sad thing is many of us are physically heavy … I’ll use a nice word … overindulged, but spiritually starving. This is why we need daily bread, just enough for today, so that we can come back to him tomorrow.
Part of my personal prayer in this section, when I’m inserting mine into the text, yes, is to pray God’s provision for me physically. That doesn’t take a long time, but then my mind goes to how I’m thankful that I have this physical provision. Then my mind goes to those who don’t have the physical provision. I’m encouraging this for you as well. But then my prayer list gets a little longer, when I start thinking about my spiritual needs and inserting what do I need from God spiritually today? So I ask him, as I’m committing to daily consuming the bread of life through prayer, daily consuming the bread of life through his word that he left me, that he would give me what I need spiritually today as I literally consume his word. What a great prayer. “Lord, give me this day my daily bread.”
But then what does he also say? That’s provision, and as you are provided for, I promise you will last in the spiritual battle against Satan longer, but then you need to keep yourself from turning on yourself. You need to seek reconciliation. You need to have forgiveness as a part of your daily life. Look at verse 12. Not only does this model prayer help you with praying for daily provision, but it also helps you with daily reconciliation. “And forgive us our debts as we have forgiven our debtors.” Your translation may say “transgressions”. These are just human English terms that we’ve added to the text because of the context of the people that they were living. The word that you can insert here and be more textually accurate is “forgive us of our sins,” which can be a debt or a trespass, “as we have forgiven those who sinned against us.”
In this section, Jesus discusses forgiveness, starting between you and God, maybe even between you and yourself, and then you and others. Forgiveness, church, is the first step in reconciliation, whether it’s between you and God or you and a friend or a family member. In fact, hear me. Without forgiveness, there will be no reconciliation. That’s what Jesus did for us on the cross. He died for what we deserve and absorbed that punishment on our behalf. He literally paid our debt, and in that, offered us this debt cancellation through faith. And because of that, we offer that to others. That’s what Jesus is saying here.
But it’s not just eternal, not just salvation-oriented. There’s an aspect of this that it’s not only daily bread, but daily forgiveness, and no, I’m not telling you that you’re forgiven for all of eternity every single day, but if you are saved, if you’re forgiven for all of eternity through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, don’t lie to yourself and think that you do not need to daily confess your sins to God, because Jesus knows something that you may have forgotten, that even your daily sin as a Christian can cause separation between you and the Father. God’s not going anywhere, but daily you can push yourself away from him in sin. And if you leave that sin unchecked and unconfessed for long enough, it will hamper your ability to hear from God and to be used by him. Not eternal salvation, but daily glorifying his name, which is what you were created to do.
Do you get this? This is huge. Some people completely ignore this. What Jesus is saying here is that you need a special time in your prayer every day where you recount your sins that you’ve committed, so you can confess them to God. “Confess” simply means that you agree with God about it. He already knows about it. You’re just agreeing with him about it, and what you’re doing in asking him for forgiveness is allowing him full access to do whatever is necessary to remove that sin from your life so the relationship can be restored.
But if you leave it unconfessed and unchecked, it will cause you to turn on yourself. It will kill you from the inside out. It’s much like any sin, but I’m going to pick the sin of addiction as a great example. Let’s say you’re addicted to heroin, which is probably one of the worst drugs out there, and it can be any other drug. What’s the first step in your recovery from heroin? You must first see that the heroin is bad and dangerous to your body, and then you can seek help. You must first admit that it’s a problem. If you don’t, what happens? It consumes you. The next thing you know, the person who’s addicted to heroin, they’re lying to you, they’re stealing from you, and they may even kill to get what they want. But if they see it as bad, then they can start to recover from it.
All sin works the same, not just addiction. If you leave it unconfessed, and you hide it in some deep, dark place of your soul, thinking this is okay, I’m going to continue to do this, it’ll slowly destroy you. And just like that addiction that sometimes destroys people around the person who’s addicted, your sin that you’re hiding, that’s your pet sin, that you don’t confess, that you don’t admit, you continue to leave it unconfessed and unchecked, it will slowly corrupt you and even sometimes those around you.
You say, “Pastor, I don’t really struggle with this daily confession of sin. I can’t really think of a sin that I’m struggling with.” Then start with pride. I’m not joking. I’ve heard this before. Start with pride. Confess your pride, that you don’t think you struggle with sin, because here’s the reality: you do. Maybe it starts with, “Lord, forgive me of the pride that I felt today when I was talking with another friend, and I looked down on him. No one else knew that, but I did inside myself, and you knew it, and I thought I was better than him. I’m sorry. I now know that I’m not better than him. I’m a wicked sinner, just like everybody else, but I have been saved by your grace. Remove this from me.”
Maybe it’s lust, maybe it’s anger, maybe it’s a thousand other things. Here’s where I want you to insert you in your prayer time. Remember, we’re building a model prayer, a battle plan. This is when you need to say specifics. Don’t let yourself off easy by saying, “Forgive me of my sins,” and then move on. No, no. That’s not good enough. “Forgive me of my sins,” and then park there. Again, I told you, my prayer list is growing every time I keep studying this passage, because the more I keep inserting a sin and the longer I spend in this section guess what God does? He reveals to me another sin that I’m struggling with.
Do not leave a sin in your life unconfessed and unchecked. That’s what Satan wants. But I also want you to notice, not only when you’re doing personal confession of sin on a daily basis, but I also want you to notice that this forgiveness that you receive from God eternally and daily is directly related to your forgiveness of others. What does Jesus say here? “Forgive us our debts,” he’s teaching us to do this, “as we have forgiven our debtors.” It could also read, “Forgive us our sins as we have forgiven those who have sinned against us.” Some of you, church, need to start with forgiving yourself. Maybe you’ve confessed your sin to God, and you’ve asked him to forgive you, and he’s already forgiven you, but you just won’t let it go. You just keep beating yourself up about it.
I ask you a question: Is God right or are you right? You know the answer to that, don’t you? God’s right. If you’re forgiven, own it and move past it. Your forgiveness between you and God is a challenge. I think you can get over that hurdle. Your forgiveness between you and yourself is a larger hurdle, but you can get over that. But here’s the real struggle: your forgiveness towards others. Jesus says your forgiveness towards others is directly related to your understanding of what it means for me to forgive you. I know it sounds like a pre-qualifier. Listen to what he goes on to say in verse 14 and 15: “For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others, then your heavenly Father will not forgive you your transgressions.”
This sounds like a pre-qualifier, doesn’t it? Sounds like that you must first forgive other people, and then God will forgive you. That’s not what Jesus is saying, but he is saying this: Your forgiveness of others is directly related to your understanding of the forgiveness that God gives you. In fact, Jesus sees them so tightly connected that if you’ve been forgiven by him of sin, he would say something like, “You have to forgive others their sins.” It’s the only rational response. So it doesn’t mean that your forgiveness of others is a prerequisite to your forgiveness from God, but it can mean this. This may hit home for a lot of you, it hit home for me. If you refuse to forgive somebody else, it might mean you don’t completely understand forgiveness, or have not received complete forgiveness from God, and you don’t have it, and you’re not saved.
Because what Jesus is saying here is strong. If you have been forgiven, then you will forgive others. Have you ever heard that quote that says, “If you don’t forgive somebody else, but instead you harbor bitterness against them, or you hold a grudge against them, that it’s like you drinking the poison and hoping that they’ll die”? That’s true. You’re not hurting them by not forgiving them. You’re hurting you. You’re drinking the poison, but I think it’s worse than that. Not only are you drinking the poison, Satan’s going to sit back going, “You go ahead. They don’t deserve it anyway. They don’t deserve your forgiveness anyway. Just don’t forgive them.” He’s going to sit back and go, “Oh yeah, you’re right. They’re too bad. You’re too right. You’re too good. They’re too wrong.” Just stay doing that, and he’ll watch you drink the poison and die from the inside out.
But it’s worse than that. It’s offending God when you do that. Let’s say that person’s an unbeliever. Vodie Baucham stood in this pulpit and helped us to remember that if you refuse to forgive the unbeliever, this is what you’re telling God, that your eternal wrath and damnation is good enough of a punishment for their unforgiven sin, but it’s not good enough for me. I’ve got to add my own punishment to them, the silent treatment, the “you’re dead to me” attitude. They say, “Oh well, Pastor, they’re a believer. I hate to tell you, the person that I refused to forgive, they’re a follower of Christ.” And this is what you’re telling God: The sacrifice, the blood shed, the brutalization, the crucifixion of your son was enough for you to forgive them, but the brutalization of Christ and the sacrifice of Christ is not enough for me.
Here’s what we have to hear, church. It’s enough. Whether it be his wrath on eternity and his vengeance against the unbeliever, or it’s the wrath that he poured out on his son, what God has given or will give is enough. If you’ve been forgiven, you simply have to forgive. So here’s what you do in your prayer time. Now, this isn’t the most fun part, right? No, this is hard. Not only are you going to list the sins when you get to “forgive me of my sins,” that’s going to be a lot of fun for you, but then I want you to put down the names of those who you have yet to forgive. They’re in your mind right now. Don’t try to hide them from me. I can’t see them, but I know they’re there. How do I know that? Because they’re in my mind. Over and over again, God would bring a name.
I’ve really tried in my life to reduce that list, I really have, I promise you. But who is it in your life that you refuse to forgive? It might be somebody close to you. Put their name on your list until you forgive them. It’s directly related to your understanding of forgiveness. Do not take them off the list until you forgive them. And I don’t want you to wait till they come to you and say, “I’m sorry.” That’s not what Jesus says here. Nor do you wait until you can go to them and say, “I forgive you.” That’s not necessary either. Forgive as soon as you can, because the forgiveness that God showed you was not earned by you, it was earned by Christ. Therefore, that’s good news when you’re dealing with someone else. The forgiveness that you’re going to give them was not earned by them, nor can it be earned by them, the same way you cannot earn it. It was already earned by Christ. All you have to do is give it.
Church, if you don’t do this, it will haunt you. Bitterness will destroy you, and God’s productivity will lessen in you. That’s why Paul says in Romans 12:19, “Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, as it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, says the Lord. I will repay.'” What example do you see in the society? I know what you see, because we model what we see. It’s the worst in politics, and I know politics are consuming our life right now. We shouldn’t even be enemies, that’s what bothers me. I’m like, whatever side you’re on, why are we enemies?
But let’s say even we are enemies, and someone on the other side of the political bench does something to you or your party, or let’s say you’re actually in office, and they attack you personally. What’s the example that you see, and therefore the example that they tell you to emulate? As soon as the attack hits, they put up the defenses, and they deny, and then what do they do? They fire right back. And on and on it goes with political parties. Fire, fire, fire, attack, attack, attack. Even if they’re enemies, even if they have sinned against you, my question is where’s the forgiveness? Where’s the forgiveness?
Jesus doesn’t tell us to harbor the bitterness. He tells us to show forgiveness, be he has forgiven us. Now, I’m not telling you that if you forgive that individual, they automatically have a hundred percent of the relationship that they had before the grievous sin that they did against you. I’m not saying immediately all the trust that they had before is going to be regained. No, what you do is you give forgiveness, based upon what Christ has done, and then you take reconciliation one step at a time over time. And slowly, over time, trust will grow. But here’s the reality. The relationship may never be the same again, but you still are to show the concept of forgiveness, because Christ has forgiven you.
Paul goes on in Romans 12 to say, “But if your enemy is hungry, feed him. And if he’s thirsty, give him something to drink, for in doing so you will heap burning coals on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” I see so much, even Christians fighting evil with evil. So insert these people into your prayer list until God gives you the ability to forgive them, because forgiveness starts in your heart, based upon Christ. I’m also telling you not to ignore evil. Some people translate, do we ignore evil? No, you don’t ignore evil, you attack evil, but when someone hurts you, forgive them. When someone sins against you, you forgive them.
So my list has been growing, hopefully like yours. God reminded me this week that there’s sins in my life that I’ve let slide, that I need to bring to him and confess, and let him do whatever is necessary to remove that sin in my life. The more I prayed, the more sins were revealed. There’s people that came to my mind, and I needed to add to my list until God gives me the ability to forgive them, so the relationship has the possibility of being reconciled. That’s what I want you to do. Start taking the prayer that the Lord gave you as a model, and start inserting your life into it. Start writing down those sins, and start writing down those names.
Commit right now as you’re sitting there to daily consume the bread of life through prayer and the reading of his word. Let this become a part of your daily model, because if you don’t, you might be moving ever closer to the Russia of your life. The longer you spiritually starve, the harder the battle will become. Let me tell you, Satan has all the time in the world. He will let you starve without attacking you, and I promise you, he will win the war of attrition every time. Don’t turn on yourself and drink the poison of unforgiveness, thinking that Satan’s going to die. He will not. He will just watch you die. You’re only hurting yourself.
Use this section of the Lord’s Prayer to reestablish the lines of provision, the supply lines, and for reconciliation to become a part of your daily life, and then watch out. The good stuff is coming through your obedience.