Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Sin Swings Two Ways

Forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors. Mt 6:12

I felt pretty good about myself when I finished my morning walk today. I had reflected on my life and discovered that I had been faithful to my spouse, honest in my business, never lost a malpractice suit, never lied, cheated or stolen and never deliberately hurt anyone. I’m okay.

But by bedtime, God’s whisper was making me uncomfortable again. The Lord’s Prayer had teamed up with the 13th Warrior and opened my ears.

Each of us should periodically examine our lives and let God show us whether we are pleasing Him or not. It’s not about a scorecard, just an opportunity to refocus and return to the right path if we have wandered off.

Most of us look at our lives as good or bad based on the number of bad things we’ve done---our sins are actions we’ve committed that have been displeasing to God. But if we settle there, we will likely move very slowly toward becoming the people God wants us to be.

There is an interesting scene in one of my favorite movies, The 13Th Warrior, where the protagonist of the story is about to enter a major battle that could end with his death. As the battle commences he prays, “For all we ought to have thought and have not thought…all we ought to have said and have not said…all we ought to have done and have not done. I pray thee, God, for forgiveness.”

I have often wondered at the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6, where Jesus says “Forgive us our debts….” Jesus is clearly talking about our sins, but uses the word “debts” instead. What is He trying to tell me?

Many Biblical scholars have described sin as “missing the mark”. Perhaps Jesus is saying, “You can miss the mark in many ways. Sometimes you miss the mark because you fire the arrow where I told you not to aim. But very often, you miss the mark because you never let the arrow fly---the things I have wanted you to do with your life are left undone.”

When I evaluate my life with this understanding, I see the wide gap between the place that God would take me in my life, if I were willing, and where I now am. Such an understanding does not often lead me into guilt but certainly does call me out of complacency.

Dear God,
Help me to listen to You and move into Your will when You call.

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