“And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors” . . . “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” (Matthew 6:12, 14-15)
The entire prayer that Jesus is teaching has one goal – to get our souls oriented to God’s reality. We start with who He is – “Our Father in heaven, holy is your name.” We acknowledge the truer reality of heaven, His Kingdom, and His will in order to see the reality of earth correctly. We trust Him to provide and acknowledge our need for Him. And now, the hard part. It could be said that forgiveness is the most important and telling part of being a citizen of heaven. Why would this be so? While I don’t believe forgiveness is the climax of what God did in Jesus Christ (He did way more than just forgive us), I think it is the immediate answer to getting us back into right relationship with the Father. Over and over Jesus tells broken men and women He encounters, “You are forgiven.” If we are to live in God’s reality and completely sell out to it, we must walk in forgiveness – both humbly received and freely given.
This is the only line of The Lord’s Prayer that Jesus comes back to for emphasis and expansion. He includes it in verse 12 and then comes back and adds the comment of verses 14-15. Is He actually saying that if we don’t forgive we won’t be forgiven? That sounds like works righteousness! With God you have to give in order to get, behave properly in order to escape punishment. Is this what Jesus means? This week God reminded me of something: Our life reveals what we really believe. Are we forgiven? Then, we have forgiveness to offer. Are we a citizen of heaven whose currency is love and mercy, then we walk in that love and mercy towards those who wrong us. I like what Eugene Peterson does with these verses in his work, The Message:
“In prayer there is a connection between what God does and what you do. You can’t get forgiveness from God, for instance, without also forgiving others. If you refuse to do your part, you cut yourself off from God’s part.” (Matthew 6:14-15, The Message)
Holy Spirit, lead us on a tour today of our inner world, those places in our soul where we have been holding on rather than letting go, to hurt, to bitterness, to jealousy, and a begrudging spirit. Father, let us see the full magnitude of your love for us through the Son today. Jesus, help us meditate today on all you went through to communicate one life-changing statement: “You are forgiven.” Amen.