‘You owe me an explanation!’ Some reflections on forgiveness

‘Forgive us our debts, just as we also forgive our debtors’
I find this translation* helpful in some contexts.
I often hear expressions such as
‘You owe me an apology’
‘You owe me a favour’
‘You owe me an explanation’
Sometimes these words have been said to me. I have also heard them in conversations between other people.
In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus told us to forgive our debtors, to let them off their debts.This means that we need to stop pleading for that apology, that favour, that explanation.It’s not easy but God equips us to do what He asks us to do.
I find ‘you owe me a favour’ and its converse ‘I owe you a favour’ interesting. When I give someone a small gift, I do it because I want to, and not in the expectation that the other person will ‘return the favour’. Yet some people seem to feel obliged to return the favour, which saddens me. Giving a friend small bunch of flowers (for instance) is about grace, not about initiating some sort of business deal.
God gives graciously to us and I think the best response to that is thankfulness.I don’t think God wants us to think that we owe Him a favour – we can’t ‘return the favour’ anyway, because God gives more to us than we could ever give to Him!
We are asked to love one another as God loves us. I think this includes giving freely without any expectation of others returning the ‘favour’.
So I think ‘forgive us our debts, just as we also forgive our debtors’ is about being gracious and about being able to receive the graciousness of others…well, graciously 🙂
* In our church we say this version: ‘Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us.’

One more thought…
Sometimes I feel let down by people but then I realise that they haven’t let me down at all! It’s just that I’d over-rated them and then realised that they have feet of clay like the rest of us. So I need to forgive myself for over-rating them and forgive them for being fallible human beings like the rest of us.

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4 thoughts on “‘You owe me an explanation!’ Some reflections on forgiveness

  1. quinnjones2 Post author

    Thank you for your comment, Sue. Yes, it is sad when people seem to be unable to receive the generous gift of God’s grace. I am aware in myself of traces of feeling I need to reciprocate when people are generous (and feeling a mild panic when I know I can’t!) The hostess of our silent prayer group sent me home once laden with flowers and vegetables from her garden. After that momentary ‘What can I do for her?’ thought, I realised that to attempt to reciprocate would have been to attempt to place a value on her generosity, which is impossible, because her generosity is priceless. She just wanted me to enjoy the flowers and the veg. – which I did 🙂

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