Dirty hands, clean hands
When my kids were little, they had these fantastic water-proof jumpsuits that were a real fashion statement for kids then – NOT. Bright red, you could spot them on the darkest days. The outfit was completed with a trendy pair of wellies, and meant the kids were free to splash in mud puddles to their hearts’ content! Inside, they were clean and dry. Brilliant!
So here’s the picture. Imagine the child, mud larking and having the most glorious fun, when a small toy falls into the dirt. The child spots and grabs the toy, and holds it tight in the palm of its hand. When mum comes to clean up her little one, she unwraps the mucky outer layers, and washes his hands and face. Only the one hand won’t come clean, because it’s holding tight to one very muddy toy. Dirty water drips down onto his clean clothes from that hand. Gently she encourages him to let go, and only then can he become completely cleansed.
That’s how I see the part of the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6:12, “And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.”
You see, our Father God wants us to be clean, completely clean, and free from sin. If we confess our wrongdoing and ask him, he will forgive us, and remove all the dirt, cleansing us and setting us free from every sin.
The problem is, when others hurt us, we have a tendency to hold on to that hurt, and so we hold on to the dirt. Forgiving someone means letting go. It sets them free; but more importantly, it sets us free. Not forgiving someone, means that we are still attached to that hurt, and it prevents us from being totally cleansed, forgiven, healed and liberated.
Sometimes it is so hard to forgive. Especially when we’ve been badly hurt. Especially when it seems they are getting away with it. Especially when they know they’ve got away with it, and there’s that smirk. But holding on by not forgiving empowers that person, and gives them a hold over you. But their mud does not have to stick on you.
God wants you to be clean and free, and sent Jesus to pay the price for our sins, for that very reason. But as you are forgiven, you too must forgive. And keep on forgiving. Live forgiven and forgiving. Live free.