Random Blog Clay Feet: September 17, 2008
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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Secret of Forgiveness

And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. (Matthew 6:12 NAS95)

Thank-you, John, for taking a very careful look at this verse. I always find it very rewarding to ask the kind of tough, close questions that you brought up with a mind open and ready to receive deeper insights from the Spirit of truth. And while I do not want to replace the role of that Spirit I believe that when people join their minds and hearts together to seek to see God's face more clearly through this kind of study that they are never disappointed. God is eager to interact with people ready to receive.

I combed through each word of this verse in the Greek and tried to listen to the sense of what it seems to be saying. I am not sure which translation you were referring to when you said you looked at the literal translation. I have Young's Literal Translation but it does not have it written the way you described. And I have to also say that since I know nothing about how Greek is written sequentially I cannot propose myself as an authority of any kind on the subtle aspects that may be in the original language. All I can do is to compare the meanings of each word in relationship to the surrounding words and then try to get a sense of how those meanings may interact in various ways that are consistent with the truth that God has revealed about His character.

I did see the word for our from the Greek and it denotes ownership of something. In fact, it seems to be the word defining ownership. It is the exact same word used in the previous phrase also translated our connected to debts. So both of these instances seem to be noting the owner of whatever is the object of the phrase. In the first phrase the word debts seems to be the object of the our. In the second phrase it is debtors who are the object of the our.

What I find interesting is the difference between the words behind those two words that could give some insight for the our in each phrase. The first one refers to something that is owed, a debt but not just in a financial sense. It refers to a moral debt which in my understanding involves a hurt or injury at the heart level. It is that feeling you get when you know that someone owes you an apology, a debt that has been created by an injury or a violation of your freedom or your spirit. Your feelings and your spirit have been injured and damaged and someone clearly is the cause of that. Because of the way we are created we sense that an imbalance in our connectedness with others (or even ourself) has been created that needs to be restored to balance in some way before we can feel at peace.

The second word translated debtors is very similar but refers directly to the person involved who apparently created the injury. It carries all the same implications of the first word but places the focus on the person involved, not just the nature of the feeling.

Now when I add the our to each of these words involving debt what I see is that in the first case I am the owner of the debt created and in the second case I am the owner of the debtor – not owner in the sense of the one who generated it but owner in the sense that I am the one still holding the bag, the one who has controlling interest in the existence of this debtor and what is done about it.

When I see it from that light I see more clearly how consistent that is with everything I have learned from the various healing ministries and my own experiences in this area of life. The mistake that most of us make in relationship to the concept of emotional debts is that we think that the person who has offended us is the one responsible to remove the debt. After all, they are the one who clearly created it and therefore we assume that they likewise have the power to remove or fix it.

Wow, the more I get into this the more my own heart is being affected by what is emerging. This is really stirring up deep feelings inside of me as I ponder this. Thanks again for inviting me to look at this. Maybe God prompted you to bring this up for some very specific purpose that I am not aware of quite yet.

Believing that the people who have offended me are the ones responsible for repairing the damage they caused me is like going down a dead-end street expecting to emerge into the freedom of a super-highway. For it is becoming more clear from my own study and from all the things I have learned from other people that have explored this area is that the only way any of us will ever become free from the heavy weight of the emotional debts we all experience is to first take full ownership of the debt. Otherwise we can never be in a position to do anything truly effective about it.

The other alternative that produces even worse results is to indulge in the temptation to desire revenge or retribution against the debtor (who happens to also be owned by us in some sense according to the wording here). And this brings me back around to the main point of your original question yesterday. You said that what you saw in a literal translation of this verse was that we would be forgiven our debts by God just as we forgave ourselves of our debts. In a certain sense that is actually very accurate to a degree but can be confusing if not carefully considered in the context of everything else surrounding this.

The sense in which this can bring significant insight to this concept of forgiveness is the fact that we are the owner both of the debt created and have controlling interest in the existence of a debtor. When this is more clearly perceived I believe the difference between whether the debt was created by ourselves against ourselves or was created by someone else against ourselves may become possibly insignificant. What may be the main point that Jesus is making here is that we are the one with all the power to initiate a resolution of the problem and that even the forgiveness of God may be blocked from us by our unwillingness to release a debt or grudge that we carry, either against others or even possibly ourselves.

I hasten to add that blocking God's forgiveness from our heart has nothing whatsoever to do with God's side of this matter. We cannot prevent God from forgiving us. That is a fact that has always existed, even before Jesus died on the cross. Jesus did not come to die in order to procure forgiveness for us but He came to die to reveal the forgiving reality of the heart of God, both the Father and the Son. Forgiveness is a fact of reality that we only struggle to believe because of the massive deceptions that we struggle under, not because God has to be convinced to forgive. Forgiveness is something that describes the very nature of God that has never changed and never will.

The process of salvation is totally dedicated to bringing us back into alignment with the heart of the God in who's image we were created. Because of that Jesus came to both teach us and demonstrate what that original looks like and acts like and feels like and thinks like. And part of that process of re-education is exposing the basic principles by which reality exists. This issue of forgiveness and who has the power to initiate resolution and reconciliation is one of those principles of reality that has been seriously obscured by the great deceiver.

What Jesus is telling me here is that if I want to experience the reality of God's forgiveness and all the commensurate healing that will accompany that experience, I must choose to be willing to act in the same manner as God acts toward me. Of course, if I still have mistaken ideas about how God feels about me or how He forgives, then those mistaken ideas will corrupt my ability to live in the perfect freedom from bitterness and resentment that Jesus demonstrated in His life on earth.

Jesus wants us to realize the tremendous power we have within our own mind and heart to initiate our own freedom from all the debt that is literally killing us slowly in our hearts. God respects and values our freedom so immensely that He will never force us to forgive. Our will is the most important part of our makeup and is the key element that enables us to reflect the real nature of God Himself. Our free will is the only thing we have that empowers us to enter in to the experience of genuine love, for love has to be free or it is not love.

God deeply desires our love, for He created us to interact with His heart in that way along with all those around us. Forgiveness is the door waiting for us to pass through on our way to that freedom of perfect love. But one of the most important parts of this situation that we must be aware of is that we ourselves are the owners and possessors of the key that can unlock our prison cells of fear and pain or resentment. Our will is the hand that can take the key of forgiveness and with the authority of ownership we can both release the weight of the debt that is crushing the life out of us and can change the attitude of our heart toward those who we insist are our debtors, whether that be someone else or even ourselves.

A debtor is a label, a description of our perception of the identity of someone. When we determine that someone deserves the label of debtor, we ourselves are the one who determines that label in our own mind, we are the owner of that mental and social opinion of someone described as debtor. So because the whole concept of indebtedness is really an attitude, a state of mind that we maintain about someone, we as the owner of that concept are the only ones with the power to change that belief. For nothing that anyone else can do can force us to change our belief about the identity of whoever we consider to be a debtor. That is something only we can choose to do.

But likewise, I believe Jesus is revealing a parallel principle in this verse. We will always act like the perceived God we believe exists in our life. So if we refuse to forgive and release a debt and a debtor from our hearts, we also incapacitate our own hearts from embracing that forgiveness that has always existed and has always been available to us from the heart of God. This is not because God withholds it from us but because we lock the door of our hearts from being able to let it in.

This is very clearly implied in the word translated as in this verse. It denotes a direct linkage between the way we choose to act and think with the way we receive from God. It is a law of the mind in this case that the only way we can experience true forgiveness is to be willing to exercise it just as it is offered to us. Apparently the same part in the brain is required for both of these things. It is only when we unlock the door of our heart and release the debt owed to us that we will be able to experience the receiving end of that same experience. It is a very pointed application of the principle seen in what is called the Golden Rule.