My Comforter

“My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?” asks David in Psalm 22:1. We can fall into what seem to be terrible times of trial and feel like everything, even our own God, is against us. This feeling is what David expresses in his question. Trials can come in many ways and forms: perhaps we feel so fallen into a sin that even God can no longer save us, a loved one has been taken from us despite their youth and healthiness, or we ourselves suffer with some terrible illness. However, all of these things are only a minor comparison to what Christ, our caring Shepherd, has suffered. Christ suffered the full pouring out of God’s wrath for innumerable sins of an innumerable amount of His elect people. In His suffering, Christ became our Mediator who knows all our burdens and grants us full assurance of peace in salvation.

For us, Christ “made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men,” (Phil. 2:7). As a man, we know that “Jesus wept” and felt the pain, weakness, and tiredness of our bodies (John 11:35, John 4:6, Matt. 8:24). He also knew what it felt like to be hated and unjustly tortured. Countless times the Pharisees questioned Jesus with wicked motives, men tried to push Him off of a cliff, He lost His friend Lazarus, and all His suffering climaxed when He bore the wrath of God on the cross. Now, the One who suffered all these unimaginable miseries has become our Mediator. Jesus, who suffered more than is imaginable–for this punishment came from the all powerful God– understands any pain that you or I may ever encounter. This merciful Saviour, our gracious Comforter, speaks to us and comforts us in the scriptures, through His voice in the preaching, and in speaking with us and answering our prayers.

In His word, Jesus assures us of our salvation, which brings us peace in any trial, saying “therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:1). Every week Jesus spiritually renews us with the preaching so that it is fitting to compare the preaching to milk or meat as is done in I Corinthians 3:2. On the Sabbath, we are assured that we have no need of fear, but may live instead devoting all our heart and soul in joy and thankfulness praising the God of our salvation. Lastly, Jesus works peace within us by answering our prayers. He is our “Emmanuel… God with us” and He knows everything we need (Matt. 1:23).  For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil” (I Pet. 3:12)

Through any affliction we may face, our Lord Jesus is our comfort. He has been touched with our infirmities and knows the feelings of temptation (Heb 4:15). There is no man who can comfort us like our gentle Shepherd. He fully understands and comprehends the burdens we may face and has a compassionate love towards us, His sheep. How blessed we are to have a full assurance and confidence in Him knowing He is our faithful Mediator who “change[s] not” (Mal. 3:6).

Luke Christian Potjer

 

Forgiving Our Debtors

“Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors,” (Matt. 6:12). These words from the well-known Lord’s Prayer are words that we often speak, yet it can be so easy to verbalize them without really thinking about their meaning. “As we forgive our debtors.” Because of our sinful human natures, that can be so hard to do! Living and interacting in a world full of sinners, we are sinned against daily. But how do we react? So often we are tempted to hold a grudge against that sinner, refusing to make amends and forgive him of his wrongdoing. But Jesus instructs us in Luke 17:3 as to the proper response: “If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him.” Here are a few things to consider that will help motivate us to maintain a forgiving attitude towards others.

  1. Remember the great debt of sin that God has forgiven of us. “Even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye” (Col. 3:13). By nature, we hate God and want nothing to do with Him, content to drown in our world of darkness and sin. By nature, we commit the greatest of sins against Him, adding daily to the mountain of transgressions on our account. By nature, we are bound to serve the Devil, and do so willingly. Apart from God, we are blinded by the darkness of sin, desiring no salvation, but reveling in the lusts of the flesh. Yet God, in His infinite mercy and grace, chose us and loved us in eternity, and thus provided the Way for us to be redeemed and forgiven. He sent His only begotten Son to redeem us sinners who cursed, mocked, and ridiculed Him, and the sinless One willingly laid down His life fully to satisfy the whole wrath of God against our sins.

  1. God calls us to forgive others out of thankfulness for His gracious forgiveness of us. “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you” (Eph. 4:32). As those who have had the mountain of our sins forgiven, we have the greatest example and motivation for forgiving others. When we meditate on the magnitude of God’s forgiveness of our sins, how can we not be filled with gratitude and a desire to reflect that great work of God in our relationships with others? When we remember this, we will always have reason to forgive because no matter how great a sin is committed against us, the forgiven debt we owed to God will always be infinitely greater.

  1. Christ not only died to forgive you, but all of God’s children. If you are wronged in some way by a fellow Christian, remember that you are both sinners saved by the same grace. God holds that sinner in His hands just the same as He holds you, and he is part of God’s covenant family just as you are. God has already forgiven that child of His of that sin, so who are you to refuse him your forgiveness when he asks for it?

  1. God forgives our sins constantly and completely – and so must we forgive our debtors. Psalm 103:12 says, “As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.” That is how completely God forgave our sins, and that is what true forgiveness is. It is not saying, “I forgive you,” while refusing to forget the incident and continuing to foster feelings of hatred and resentment against that person. But it is forgiving the sin so completely that we cast it from our memory, never allowing it to resurface to taint the reputation of the sinner. God also forgives our sins continually. Daily  we add to the debt of sins we owe to God, and daily He forgives us of every single one. We, in turn, receive the calling to do the same with regard to our debtors: “If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him” (Luke 17:3-4). When we remember how constantly we sin against God and how readily He forgives us of those sins, we should be able to forgive our debtors no matter how frequently we are wronged.

When we meditate on these things, we will find ourselves much more willing to forgive our debtors. And when we forgive our debtors, we will have the assurance that our debts are forgiven by God. “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matt. 6:14-15). Of course, our act of forgiving others does not cause God to forgive our sins – Christ has already accomplished that once and for all and nothing we do can change that. But when we forgive our debtors, we experience that forgiveness and have the assurance that ours are forgiven as well. Then we can pray with understanding the words of the Lord’s Prayer as Christ has taught us, “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.”

Anna Langerak

Forgive Us Our Debts, As We Forgive Our Debtors. 

Every day in our prayers we ask for forgiveness of our sins. We confess them before God as they weigh heavy on our hearts. How often do we pray for the ability to forgive others? The fifth petition of the Lord’s Prayer pairs these two together and puts an emphasis on the importance of each one.

In Matthew 18 we read the Parable of the two debtors. It is a very familiar parable to us all about a servant who was forgiven an unpayable amount of debt he owed to his master. After the servant was forgiven this debt, he went to his fellow servant who had borrowed a minuscule amount of money, and had him cast into prison until he would pay the debt. We read this passage with disgust and we can hardly believe the cruelty of this man. How dare he refuse to forgive this man after he had just been forgiven of an unimaginable amount of debt!

And his fellowservant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt” (Matt. 18: 29, 30).

We read this passage with disgust, yet we are that servant. Every time we sin we add and we add to our collection of debt against God, and it has built up to an unpayable amount. We are the man who owes money to his master, and to make it even worse, we refuse to forgive our neighbour just as he did. Every time we hold a grudge and refuse to forgive our neighbour (at times even our closest friends), we are STILL that man who is trampling his friend into poverty. The hate and anger that builds up in our hearts that quite often lasts days and weeks is our way of disobeying the fifth petition. This fifth petition is part of the beautiful prayer given to us from Jesus, and we repeatedly pray over and over again.

As we forgive our debtors.” Jesus directs us to pray this. He instructs us to pray this because he knows our sins, and he knows how hard it is for us to forgive! So often we dwell on a small incident, and as our anger builds up, we drive farther and farther away from God’s command to forgive those who sin against us. Forgiveness takes prayer, takes patience, takes love, and takes selflessness. To forgive we must turn our hearts from anger, bitterness, and hurt. But forgiveness goes against our human nature. We don’t want to forgive! Out of our obedience to God we must have faith and pray for Christ to work that forgiveness in our heart. We must forgive our debtors. Only those who forgive, may be expected to be forgiven from God.

For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (Matt. 6:14,15). 

Yet our story has a different ending.
“And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him.” (Matt. 18:34).

This story is a parable of earthly men, and the poor fellow servant is cast into prison. It is here that we must be fully aware of God’s unfailing mercy. The debts that we build up before God, we are not able to pay and we never will be. God knows this, which is why he sent his Son to pay for them. He does not cast us into the depths of hell, but he promises us eternal glory. And as the Lord continues to forgive our repeated sins as we confess them before him, he will also continue to give us the strength to forgive our debtors.

Please forgive all of our sins, Lord, and help us to forgive others.

Averly Kikkert