“Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”
— The Our Father
The most perfect prayer. The one Jesus told us, “When you pray, pray like this.”
Ever since, we’ve been praying the words He taught us. In fact, we’ve prayed it so often
that many of us don’t even think about what we’re saying anymore. We run through
the words almost unconsciously – memorized to the point that we no longer have to
concentrate on what we’re saying.
But let me tell you, saying this line without really thinking about what it means
is a scary proposition. Why? Because you are asking for exactly the same treatment
you’ve been dishing out. So the question becomes – what have you been dishing out?
Are you judgmental? Do you judge situations and people without really getting
to know them? Do you practice quiet prejudice – boxing people in and labeling them
because of some outward characteristic? Then when you say “as,” you’ve just given God
permission to judge you on the same scale.
Are you petty? Do you watch for the faults of others and then make sure to point
those out to everyone within earshot? Then you’ve given God permission to pick out and
point out each and everyone of your faults.
Are you jealous? Do you judge actions without bothering to learn the whole
story? Are you exacting? Harsh? Impossible to please? Do you brush by people
because they have the wrong kind of jeans or the wrong accent or the wrong personality?
Think about what you’re setting up for yourself. By saying “as,” think about what
you’ve told God to do when you stand before the Throne.
The good news is that “as” works just as thoroughly in a positive direction. Do
you have mercy on those around you? Do you forgive? Put the past behind you and truly
move on? Do you bless those who have hurt you and pray for those who hate you? Do
you actively look for the good even when it seems buried?
If so, that is the scale God will use for you. It’s a smart thing to remember the
next time you blithely say “as I forgive those…”
Copyright Staci Stallings, 2004