Matthew 6:12, 14-15. “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.. . .For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
If you grew up in church and Sunday school, as I did, you probably memorized verse 12 along with the rest of what we have come to know as The Lord’s Prayer. Again, if you’re like me, you probably didn’t get stopped on one tiny little word until some years later.
The word is as. We pray, “Forgive us as we forgive others.” We let the words role off our tongues so glibly that we don’t stop consider the importance of that one little word.
So why am I making such a big deal out of such a small word? Because of what it means, of course. It means in the same way. “Father, forgive me in the same way that I forgive those who have hurt me, sinned against me, slandered me, bullied me, stolen from me, lied about me. Forgive me, Lord, the same way that I forgive them.”
Is that really what we want? That God forgives us in the exact same way in which we have–or have not–forgiven others?
I don’t remember when I first “got it” about this principle. It’s been a very long time ago now, since I’ve reached this vast old age. Sadly, I didn’t get it when I was very young. I was an adult, rearing my own family, before the importance of this little word really sank into my heart. My experience had been that you don’t let anyone push you around, you fight back, you even the score. Standing up to those who would hurt you may be necessary and right, but if you don’t forgive those who hurt you, then all you’ve done is fight. You haven’t settled the issue. And you’re carrying around a load of anger and bitterness that will affect every other part of your life.
This is so important that Jesus went on to say that the only way to GET forgiveness from God is to GIVE forgiveness to others. Those two verses, 14-15, have stirred up a firestorm of anger more than once as I work with people in my office who are struggling with deep hurts, abuse, misery, anger and depression. It is hard to realize that one’s relationship with the Father is tainted by unforgiveness; that indeed, if we do not forgive others, then He cannot forgive us!
I urge you to ponder on these verses this week. Next week, we’ll look at another important principle of forgiveness.