As You Have Been Forgiven

“Merciful LORD, pardon all my sins of this day, week, year, all the sins of my life, sins of early, middle, & advanced years, of omission & commission, of morose, peevish & angry tempers, of lip, life & walk, of hard-heartedness, unbelief, presumption, pride, of unfaithfulness to the souls of men, of want of bold decision in the cause of Christ, of deficiency in outspoken zeal for his glory, of bringing dishonour upon thy great name, of deception, injustice, untruthfulness in my dealings with others…”[1]

This is the beginning of a Puritan prayer entitled SINS. As I preached through the Lord’s Prayer, I came to Matthew 6:12, “forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” Jesus links God’s forgiving us and our forgiving others. When we forgive others we can know that it does not merit God’s forgiving us, for salvation and forgiveness is by grace alone. The emphasis is on forgiveness we receive, due to the work of Christ. When we grasp God’s forgiveness, then we are able to forgive others. Forgiving others reveals that we understand how gracious and merciful God has been to us. We cannot be like the unmerciful servant (Matt. 18:21-35), though he was forgiven much, he would not forgive the one who owed him so little. This parable is a good commentary of 6:12. I am not implying that forgiving others who wrong you is easy, “the flesh lusts against the spirit”. I believe this is one reason Jesus adds verses 14-15 immediately after the Lord’s Prayer: “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” This is the only petition reiterated from the Lord’s Prayer. I believe He reemphasizes forgiveness because He knows we are prone not to forgive. We must remember how often we have sinned against God, and yet He has forgiven us. No one has ever sinned against us as much, so how can we not willingly forgive them? A Christian must forgive, we cannot withhold forgiveness or be bitter in our hearts toward others. Let us demonstrate God’s forgiveness by forgiving others. Christ demonstrated forgiveness as He hung on the Cross. “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” This IS Amazing Grace! As often stated: “men of grace should above all be gracious.”

[1] (Puritan Prayer SINS, used with permission of Banner of Truth)

Pastor Thomas is a native of Laurel, Mississippi. He came to Grace Baptist Church as Elder in 1999 and was called as Senior Pastor in 2001. He began his preaching ministry in 1981, and has served as pastor of churches in Mississippi for over 30 years now. He earned an Associate of Arts Degree from Clarke Memorial College in 1976 followed by a Bachelor of Music Degree from the University of Southern Mississippi in 1978. Upon graduating from the University of Southern Mississippi, he continued his education at New Orleans Baptist Seminary and earned a Master of Religious Education in 1981. To better equip himself to pastor, he continued his studies for a Master of Divinity at the Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson, Mississippi. His pastorate ministry began as an Associate Pastor at Trinity Baptist Church in Laurel Mississippi from 1981 to 1983 and Briarwood Drive Baptist Church in Jackson Mississippi from 1983 to 1988. He was then called as Senior Pastor to Halbert Heights Baptist Church in Brookhaven Mississippi from 1988 to 1993, followed by Graceway Baptist Church in Jackson Mississippi from 1993-1998. Pastor Thomas married Lawanda Wells Winn, of Laurel, in August of 1978 and they have three daughters and a son. Bethany who is married to Cody Wallace, Bridgette who is married to Chris Kimbrell, Allyson who is married to Terry Leach, and Dawson. They also have eleven grandchildren.
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