Give and Forgive
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
Matthew 6:10e “. . . in earth, . . .”
God wants to govern the whole Earth by His Word. He has a specific will He desires to see fulfilled by every human being. The Lord is serious about what happens on Earth. He is dead earnest about His revealed will being the paramount determiner of human conduct.
We live in a society which increasingly rejects the fact of moral absolutes. All things are deemed relative, as if to say, if there is a God, He does not have any absolute moral standards, He is quite laid back about human behavior, and people are on their own to choose how they will act.
Wrong! Our text refutes this deviant grain of our culture. God is not lackadaisical. He has specific desires He wants enacted, plans and purposes He wants fulfilled. God takes His God-ness seriously. Be wise. Obey Him.
Matthew 6:10f “. . . as it is in heaven.”
Prayer should begin with seeking what God wants. A main emphasis in prayer should be to plead for Earth to become a world where God feels at home. We have a prototype to shape these requests. Pray for Earth to become like Heaven, a place where God, feeling at home, rules unopposed.
In Heaven God’s will is done fully. There are no pockets of resistance. No closet or corner hides defiance.
Refuse to relinquish any square inch of Earth’s territory to the devil. God deserves to rule everyone everywhere on Earth. He has all of Heaven; let’s not rest till He also has all of Earth.
In Heaven God’s will is done quickly. There is no reluctance, never a moment’s hesitation.
Learn to obey God quickly. Hasten to do His will. Give it priority over all other wills combined. Do not hesitate. Delay is sin.
In Heaven God’s will is done gladly. There is no regret, no remorse. Everyone not only does the will of God; they actually enjoy doing it.
I fear we often are not as vigilant as we should be about this aspect of the Christian life. We sometimes sing as if we are sick, pray as if anemic, and preach as if bored. Such dreary routine mocks real obedience.
Matthew 6:11a “Give . . .”
It is okay to ask God to give us things. Prayer is not only contemplation of, and communion with, God, but also a statement by ones who are dependent, and willing to express their dependence.
In prayer we first have to ask about God’s concerns – His name, His kingdom, His will. Once we do this, and if our attitude is “not my will, but Yours, be done” (Luke 22:42), we are free to request material things for us.
We are not spiritual beings only. Having bodies as well as spirits, we are physical, mental, emotional, and social beings. God cares about all these aspects of our personhood, even as loving parents care about their children’s physical and mental health, plus their emotional and social well-being.
Jesus preached the kingdom and talked of our spiritual relationship with God. He also spent much time relieving physical misery. The sick deeply moved Him. The Great Physician compassionately healed withered hands and lame legs. He was a dermatologist who healed leprosies, an ophthalmologist who restored blind eyes, a neurologist who healed seizures, a gynecologist who ended a lady’s twelve-year flow of blood.
The example our Master left us is why Christians must care for each person’s total personhood, for every individual’s spiritual, physical, mental, emotional, and social needs. This brings us to the second word of our text.
Matthew 6:11b “. . . us . . .”
The first person plural pronoun waylays self-centeredness. Give “me” could easily end in selfishness. Give “us” shows concern for not only self, but also others. “Give us this day our daily bread” prays not only to receive, but also to share. Avoid selfish grasping in our praying. Pray kind prayers.
The whole tenor of the Lord’s Prayer keeps us from seeing ourselves as isolated, uncaring units. Never adopt the attitude that the strong can let the weak take the hindermost. Each phrase of this prayer forces us to touch God or people. We are accountable to God, and responsible for people.
Matthew 6:11c “. . . this day our daily bread . . .”
Three vital lessons. One, live one day at a time. Pray solely for “this day.” Worry not about tomorrow. God never gets in a hurry, but does always arrive on time. Each day He provides “our daily bread” for that day.
Two, we are dependent on God for every thing. Bread, being the staff of life, bespeaks all our biological needs. We are totally dependent upon God for our lives, our health, our sustenance. God sustains us. This truth is easy to forget. If we are employed, and all seems to be going well, we tend to think we are carrying our own load, but even the hardest working people owe all they have to God. The Lord forewarned Israel, saying once they became wealthy they would be tempted to say in their heart, “My power and my own ability have gained this wealth for me” (DT 8:17).
We acknowledge our dependence in a practical way when we “say grace” before meals. Let this ritual be our built-in reminder, everything needed to maintain life – food, clothing, shelter – comes from God.
Three, in prayer it is acceptable to make requests for physical and material needs. To say Christians should have no earthly desires is unbiblical. Nothing is wrong with asking God for a pay raise, or for our business to succeed. It is okay to request God to spare us from earthly calamities (MT 24:20). The disciples pled for help in a storm, and Jesus granted their plea (MT 8:25-26).
We do not need to be monastics, as if we should love only God and disdain all else. Believers have desires, dreams, aspirations, burdens. Sharing the common lot of humanity, and partaking of life’s ups and downs, it is okay for us to tell God candidly what we feel, think, and want.
Matthew 6:12a “And forgive . . .”
This “and” tells us “give” and “forgive” go together. One deals with bodily needs; one with spiritual needs. Both are essential. Having bread is never enough, for life without God’s forgiveness is hardly worth living.
The physical realm is not our only life. Nor is it our main life. The spiritual realm is far more important than the physical. It is good to eat “our daily bread,” have well rounded meals, and take our vitamins, but even better to do a daily reckoning of our spiritual health.
Our bodies send loud and clear messages telling us we need food and water, but we do not have built-in mechanisms to alert us to our spiritual need. Thus, though a sense of spiritual hunger and thirst is our most important need, it usually is not felt very often. Regular use of our text will help remind us of our spiritual requirements.
Matthew 6:12b “. . . us our debts, . . .”
As we draw closer to God, we become more sensitive to our spiritual debt at every level – gratitude, duty, falling short. As we grow more mindful of our debts of gratitude and duty, we become more sensitive to how often we are guilty of the debt of falling short. We begin to feel we never have done, and never can do, enough for God. In a maturing believer the sense of falling short becomes such an overwhelming fact of life that one constantly senses a need to call on God to ask His forgiveness.
Our text should comfort all who often find new failure in themselves. Our text assumes we are regularly guilty of sin, but also assures pardon.
Forgiveness of sin is the very thing Jesus came to make possible. Even in this prayer He gave us, Jesus included a phrase which forces us to ask constantly for forgiveness. It is, as it were, His stock in trade, what He specializes in, and wants to do. We do not have to pry it from Him, we merely have to be sorry for our sin and request His forgiveness.