That sounds backwards, doesn’t it? We give God permission? Isn’t it the other way around?
For most things, it is the other way around. God is the Boss, the Almighty, the One and Only. He tells us what to do, and we do it: that is how it is.
However, there is (at least) one exception that I know of, and that is found in the Gospels. Let’s look at its appearance in Mattitayu (Matthew), Chapter 6, verse 12:
“…and forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us.”
This is usually thought of as us asking God for forgiveness, but that is not really what we are doing. What we are doing, in truth, is telling God what He should do- we are giving God permission to treat us exactly as we treat others. We are not asking for forgiveness, we are authorizing God to overcome His mercy, to ignore His desire to forgive us as He wants to, and to only forgive us as we have forgiven others.
Think about that for a minute, and let it sink in. It should be frightening to you; I can tell you this- it scares the ‘H-E-double hockey sticks’ out of me!
Throughout the Tanakh and New Covenant writings (B’rit Chadashah) we are told of God’s mercy, His desire and willingness to forgive, and His unfailing love for us. All of that, of course, is true and (on top of that) is the (usual) Christian teaching that once under the blood of Christ, you are OK, forever. No problems, no worries, no obedience other than to just be a “good person” and you are set for eternity.
That isn’t the way it is, Folks! I can say that because Yeshua (Jesus) is the one who tells us how it is, and that isn’t what He says.
To see what Yeshua says, let’s look a little further down the line, at verses 14 and 15:
“If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.”
OUCH!! So, not only am I asking God to treat me the way I treat others, but Yeshua is telling me that, whether I ask to be treated this way or not, I WILL be treated the same way I treat others! Like it or not, that is what Messiah is telling us about how God will treat us- if we are unforgiving of others, we will not be forgiven. And, to top it off, if we pray as Yeshua told us to pray (Lord’s Prayer, remember?) then we are also giving God our permission to treat us this way. It’s a double-edge sword that has both edges against us….IF we are unforgiving.
On the other hand, if we ARE forgiving, then we are forgiven anything when we ask for it, in Yeshua’s name (of course.) So, here the double-edged sword is cutting a path for us to eternal joy, instead of cutting against us in both directions.
Now can you see why I say we give God permission to do something?
If you have been struggling with forgiveness, another thing to remember that might help you be more forgiving, is that the forgiveness you give has nothing to do with the other person- it is all about you and God. The other person has to make himself (or herself) right with God- you can’t do that! Your forgiveness makes YOU right with God, and it also is the only way for the pain to go away. That’s also important for you to remember.
So, nu? got it now? When you pray as Yeshua said you should, you are telling God to forgive you, not as He would want to do, but as you do to others.
If that isn’t motivation enough to forgive everyone any offence, I don’t know what is!