Forgiving as the Lord Forgives Us
In settling His accounts with us, our Lord acts not with anger, but with compassion. He does not imprison us as we deserve, but He forgives all our debts and releases us (Matt. 18:23–27). Therefore, our Lord bids each of us to have “mercy on your fellow servant,” and “forgive your brother from your heart” (Matt 18:33, 35). By the Lord’s forgiveness of our sins, we are free to forgive those who sin against us, because He has been handed over to the jailers in our stead, and He has paid our entire debt with His lifeblood. Whether we live or die, we “are the Lord’s” (Rom. 14:8). Since we all will “stand before the judgment seat of God,” we are not to despise our brother (Rom. 14:10), but gladly forgive him. By the grace of God, our brother also “will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand” (Rom. 14:4). Though we daily sin against each other, the Lord intends “to bring it about that many people should be kept alive” (Gen. 50:20). Jesus speaks kindly by His Gospel and promises: “I will provide for you and your little ones” (Gen 50:21).
Collect for the Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost: O God, our refuge and strength, the author of all godliness, hear the devout prayers of Your Church, especially in times of persecution, and grant that what we ask in faith we may obtain; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
Prayer for deliverance from sin: We implore You, O Lord, in Your kindness to show us Your great mercy that we may be set free from our sins and rescued from the punishments that we rightfully deserve; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns...
Prayers for the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the terrorist attacks:
Prayer for peace in the world: Heavenly Father, God of all concord, it is Your gracious will that Your children on earth live together in harmony and peace. Defeat the plans of all those who would stir up violence and strife, destroy the weapons of those who delight in war and bloodshed, and, according to Your will, end all conflicts in the world. Teach us to examine our hearts that we may recognize our own inclination toward envy, malice, hatred, and enmity. Help us, by Your Word and Spirit, to search our hearts and to root out the evil that would lead to strife and discord, so that in our lives we may be at peace with all people. Fill us with zeal for the work of Your Church and the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which alone can bring that peace which is beyond all understanding; through the same Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns…
Prayer for our enemies: Forgive, we implore You, O Lord, our enemies, and so change their hearts that they may walk with us in sincerity and peace; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns…
Prayer for the armed forces of our nation: Lord God of hosts, stretch forth Your almighty arm to strengthen and protect those who serve in the armed forces of our country. Support them in times of war, and in times of peace keep them from all evil, giving them courage and loyalty. Grant that in all things they may serve with integrity and with honor; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns…
Prayer for good government: Eternal Lord, ruler of all, graciously regard those who have been set in positions of authority among us that, guided by Your Spirit, they may be high in purpose, wise in counsel, firm in good resolution, and unwavering in duty, that under them we may be governed quietly and peaceably; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns…
Monday, 5 September 2011—Psalm 143:1–2; Antiphon, Psalm 143:9—Psalm 143 is the last of the seven penitential psalms. It is, like many of David’s other psalms, a plea to the LORD to rescue him from his enemies. David does not appeal to his own goodness or righteousness, however, but explicitly confesses that no one living is righteous before you. Therefore, he must beg the mercy of the LORD: In your faithfulness answer me, in your righteousness! This is how we, too, must approach the LORD when we ask Him to rescue us from earthly and spiritual enemies—acknowledging, as we do in the catechism, that we daily sin much and surely deserve nothing but punishment, and acknowledging that He delivers us purely out of fatherly, divine goodness and mercy, without any merit or worthiness in me.
Tuesday, 6 September 2011—Psalm 103:1–12—What a beautiful psalm of comfort! David praises the LORD for all His benefits to us: He forgives all our iniquity, heals all our diseases, redeems our life from the pit, and more. Why? Because the LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
Wednesday, 7 September 2011—Genesis 50:15–21—Joseph’s brothers had done the unthinkable—they had sold him into slavery and told their father that his son was dead, eaten by wild animals. Years later, they were astounded to find out that Joseph was still alive and serving in Pharaoh’s court, as the most powerful man in all of Egypt after Pharaoh. So long as their father was alive, they thought that they were safe from Joseph’s retribution; however, after Jacob’s death, they feared for their lives. Incredibly, Joseph forgave them. He recognized the hand of God at work in his life. Joseph’s forgiveness of his brothers ought to serve as an example to us, particularly when we find it so hard to forgive petty sins of others.
Thursday, 8 September 2011—Romans 14:1–12—Our reading through Paul’s letter to the Romans continues with Paul warning us against judging other Christians—especially those new to the faith or weak in faith. Two extremes must be avoided: measuring and judging others by comparing them to ourselves or our own standards; and failing to use the Word of God to judge. Paul reminds us that we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. What will be the standard? The same as here on earth: God’s holy Word, as revealed to us in the Bible.
Friday, 9 September 2011—Matthew 18:21–35—When we hear this parable, our first reaction is probably the same as the king’s: indignation and fury against the servant who was unmerciful, especially after he had been forgiven a far greater debt. We must ask ourselves: Are we like the unmerciful servant? God has forgiven all our sins at great cost—the life of His own Son. We ought to examine ourselves: Is there anyone against whom we hold a grudge, refusing to forgive because we have been wronged? If so, we are like the unmerciful servant. Rather, we ought to remember the Lord’s Prayer, where we plead, forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. That is, we beg God’s forgiveness, and then pledge that we too will sincerely forgive and gladly do good to those who sin against us.
Saturday, 10 September 2011—The hymn of the day, I Lay My Sins on Jesus (LSB #606), is a hymn of great comfort, as we sing of our confession of all our sins—laying them on Jesus—and also as we sing of our absolution, our forgiveness—He bears them all and frees us from the accursed load. What a relief our forgiveness in Christ is! What Good News that God forgives us for Jesus’ sake and receives us into His kingdom.
Lectionary summary on front page from LCMS Commission on Worship
Woodcut by Julius Schnoor von Carolsfeld, © WELS
Prayers from Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House
This week's Time in the Word is written by Pr. Jeff Kuening