For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions. – Matthew 6:14-15
The verses following the scripture known as the “Lord’s Prayer,” are these lines which are meant to further define what Jesus meant in His prayer. Verse 12 says “forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.” When Jesus explains Himself (as He often did), He used the word “transgressions” – or sins – instead of debts. It is interesting that these words would be used synonymously.
Debt was something His followers would understand. Lending and borrowing were common at that time. Usury and unscrupulous financial behavior was also common and the penalties for non-repayment could be harsh. Perhaps Jesus wanted to be clear that these sins against each other were also sins against God. “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23) – also a harsh penalty for refusing to give God His due.
We owe a great debt to our Heavenly Father for all that He so freely gives us, yet He cancels our debt just as easily. Whatever words He used, forgiveness would seem to be the key. Without forgiveness, there is only bitterness – against others, against God, maybe against ourselves. Forgiveness is so important, that Jesus included this thought in His short model prayer. Bitterness is a terrible, debilitating obstacle that blocks our way to God and the abundant life He has planned for us.
Yes, Lord, help us forgive those who hurt us, so that we can understand and accept Your forgiveness.