The secret is this – there’s something called the Law of Attraction that guarantees that if you think, envision, and feel positively, you will attract positives to yourself – namely success, happiness, and fulfillment. Now, there’s something to be said for positive thinking at a basic psychological level (Paul writes about it in Philippians 4: “whatever is true, noble, right, lovely, etc. think about such things) – but to claim that you are the master of your fate, that you can be (you are!) your own god is going too far. And that’s exactly what The Secret does. The author of this recycled serpent’s tripe straight from the Garden of Eden has certainly found for herself the secret of making a lot of money.
I would like to share with you – for free – the secret to happiness and fulfillment. The secret is not six sessions with a palm reader at $150/hour. The secret is not looking out for the unholy trinity of me/myself/I first. It is the 5th petition of the Lord’s Prayer. The secret is forgiveness. Forgiveness for me and forgiveness for others. Forgiveness brings with it happiness, fulfillment, and contentment – not only in this life, but in the life to come. It’s a powerful prayer – this 5th petition of the Lord’s Prayer.
“Forgive us our debts, as we also forgive our debtors.” (Matthew 6:12 EHV) Let’s put something to rest right here. I’m not messing with the “old” Lord’s Prayer here or with the “new” Lord’s Prayer by using the word “debts.” I know, we’re so used to saying trespasses or sins and those are accurate words for sin. Trespass means to cross the line and violate God’s standards. Sin means to miss the mark of God’s perfection. But the word in the original Greek – not the KJV – the original Greek is debts. “Forgive us our debts, as we also forgive our debtors.”
To forgive means to put away, to separate from, to divorce oneself from. It’s a complete and final separation. To forgive is not to put something on a shelf for retrieval later at an opportune time, as in “What’s wrong with you? You did it again! You’re always messing up!” Our Father in heaven doesn’t forgive this way. He has removed our sins as far as east is from the west, he’s drowned them in the deepest depths of the sea, never to retrieve them again, he’s forgotten them with that blessed divine amnesia of his – thanks to the sacrifice of Jesus, his Son our Savior.
This forgiveness pours vertically from God to us, and then runs horizontally, from us to our neighbor. It is like the rain that showers down from the heavens and then runs along the channels of creeks, streams and rivers here in the Northwoods. It is like a waterfall that gushes downward then turns into a river flowing and moving outward. God forgives, and His forgiveness propels His forgiven people to forgive. Our prayer for forgiveness and our forgiving others is offered in one, seamless, unbroken petition prayed in a single breath: “Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.”
Forgiveness is not conditional. It is unconditional. If we want to make it conditional, and refuse to forgive others, then Jesus tells us that forgiveness is withheld from us. Forgiveness is not a numbers game. Forgiveness has no limits. But if we want to limit it for our own puny, pathetic reasons, we’ll find that God’s patience does have a limit. He will not tolerate unforgiveness which hardens into unbelief. Forgiveness from God is free, full, and forever. Forgiveness from God’s people is the same.
Here is the true “secret” to happiness – now and forever. Lord, help us to forgive as we have been forgiven.
Pastor Stephen Luchterhand