I didn’t know what to write for today and was looking through different writing prompts for March. I couldn’t find the original chart that had the prompt about my classroom, so I kept searching. Everything that I was finding felt empty to me. It wasn’t until I found the prompt asking me to reflect on Matthew 6:14 – 15 did I feel compelled to write. This compilation was strange since I usually dislike reflecting on just one verse. Knowing the entire chapter the verse I was reflecting on came from was important to me because a verse on its own can be taken out of context.
I will not pretend to be a biblical scholar who can recite scripture. I had to look this one up just like I had to do for the other two suggestions of Isaiah 53:9 and Ephesians 2:10–12. Matthew 6:14 – 15 in the NIV (the New International) bible says. “‘ 14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” I was curious how the NIV version differed from the Catholic Bible. “* If you forgive others their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions.”
Not much of a difference, just an easier understanding for some readers of what a transgression may be.
I think the reason Matthew 6:14-15 stood out to me over the verses from Isaiah and Ephesians has a lot to do with where I am in my life. The older I get, the harder it is to have the energy to hold grudges. I see no point in wasting my energy and time thinking about those who have negatively affected me in life. The perfect way to rub it in their face is that they have power over me, and my decision is to live the best life possible.
It was difficult to get to this point. There are plenty of ex-friends and boyfriends that I have wished ill on. If people would mention their names, I’m sure I’d spit just at the thought. However, I gained nothing from this besides a sour mood. It wasn’t until I got divorced from my first husband that I put this thought into action. If people would bring him up sometimes, I would discuss things, and other times I found myself saying, “I wish him nothing but to find happiness.” It was an odd way to think. My marriage had fallen apart, and I vocalized that my ex would find health and happiness. It was a much different way of thinking from wanting some of my ex-boyfriends to get run over by a truck. You would think that I would want the same for someone I thought I’d commit my life to. But how could I ever heal if I held onto hateful and negative thoughts?
“14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”
I remember the first time I went to confession and the lightness I felt after admitting my sins. Even though the sin was something I committed, I had never forgiven myself for what I had done. I held on to that pain for nearly a decade, and it did me no good. It just filled me with pain.
After understanding how freeing it was to truly forgive myself, I never wanted to live with that toxic pain in my soul again.
Until reading that verse today, I never gave it much thought. However, it makes sense and still makes sense for those who don’t believe in God. How can you let go of that animosity and pain if you never forgive the person who inflicted the pain upon you? You can’t because it will always linger in the back of your mind.
Another reason this verse stood out to me over the one from Isaiah and the Ephesians had a lot to do with how digestible it was. I could read the verse and understand what it meant without reading the entire chapter.
The NKJV of Isaiah 53:9 reads, “And they made His grave with the wicked— But with the rich at His death, Because He had done no violence, Nor was any deceit in His mouth.” Since it was only the verse, I looked up the Catholic Bible chapter to see the differences and try to understand what was happening before and after the verse. “He was given a grave among the wicked, a burial place with evildoers, Though he had done no wrong, nor was deceit found in his mouth.” This verse varied more than Matthew’s did, depending on which bible you read it in. I also found the King James version harder to understand without reading the entire chapter. In my opinion, the verse from Isaiah is a lot harder to reflect on as a standalone verse. The book of Isaiah is from the old testament, and because of that, it has a Christian and Jewish interpretation. Isaiah was a prophet, and while Chapter 53 never identifies the suffering servant, many believe the chapter is prophesying Jesus. I am not really sure how anyone could just reflect on the verse without reading the entire chapter.
I could have reflected on the other two verses from the new testament, just like Matthew. Ephesians 2:10–12 from the NKJV reads, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; that at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world.” VS Ephesians 2:10–12 from the Catholic Bible: “For we are his handiwork, created in Christ Jesus for the good works that God has prepared in advance, that we should live in them. Therefore, remember that at one time you, Gentiles in the flesh, called the uncircumcision by those called the circumcision, which is done in the flesh by human hands, were at that time without Christ, alienated from the community of Israel* and strangers to the covenants of promise, without hope and without God in the world.”
To me, the verses from Ephesians are lacking as standalone verses. You could read them and say, “yes, I understand the meaning of these words.” However, out of context, these verses are only a gentle reminder from Paul about our life before Christ. It doesn’t really stress the love of God and what the darkness was before salvation, which was the meaning of the chapter and the letter Paull had written.
I guess I ended up reflecting on all three verses, though only truly relating one to my life. It’s not just the verses that I relate to but all of chapter six from the book of Matthew. It has always been one of my favorites, especially when we get around the time of lent. Matthew Chapter 6: 1 – 8
1 “[But] take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them; otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father.
2 When you give alms, do not blow a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites* do in the synagogues and in the streets to win the praise of others. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward.
3 But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right is doing,
4 so that your almsgiving may be secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.
5 “When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners so that others may see them. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward.
6 But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.
7 * In praying, do not babble like the pagans, who think that they will be heard because of their many words.*
8 Do not be like them. Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
After the verses, it leads into the lord’s prayer.
While I share my faith here on my blog, I speak little about my faith in person. I don’t need to share it with everyone I meet. Everyone has their own relationship with God, and in south Florida, there are a lot of different churches with their take on Christianity. If the conversation comes up naturally, I will have no problem discussing my faith and how it has affected my life, but I will not scream it from the rooftops. I will not shove it down others’ throats because I don’t find it to be effective. I find living my life naturally and letting my actions show beliefs to be a lot louder than forcefully demanding those to listen to me and my journey in Christ.