12 And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors
Why is forgiveness necessary?
God is just (see Deut 10:17-18, Gen 18:25, etc.). God loves mankind, and all people are guilty of sinning against God (Rom 3:28, Psalm 51:4). All are are accountable to God. Rom 3:19-20. Achieving forgiveness was Jesus’ mission: 1 Tim 1:15 “The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.” 1 Cor 15:3-4 “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures. ” Our faith is in the effectiveness of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross is effectual for the forgiveness of our sins. God testified to the efficacy by raising Jesus from the dead. That’s why Romans 10:9-10 says that “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.
as we also have forgiven our debtors
We tend to let transgressions against us pile up. Resentment causes bitterness and enslavement—it causes sickness within us; physical, mental and emotional.
Why are we told that we must forgive?
We all need forgiveness
Since all of us are born sinners, then we sin against God in the way that we treat other. Since Romans 3:23 says “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” this means that we have too. And since God has forgiven us, then we should go and do likewise.
We are commanded to forgive—it is a requirement
“For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6: 14-15). God stands ready and willing to forgive us, but asks that we extend the same forgiveness to others.
In Matthew 18, Peter brashly came up to Jesus, and said to Him, “Lord, how many times shall my brother sin against me and I still forgive him? Up to seven times?” 22 Jesus *said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy-seven times. Peter thinks he is being very generous by saying he will forgive seven times when someone has hurt him. Seven represents completion in the Bible. Peter wanted to know at what point he could be completely done with forgiveness, and therefore done with someone that constantly seemed to need forgiveness. Even as God separates our sin as far from us as the East is from the West, and throws our transgressions in the sea of forgetfulness—then we should not keep track and therefore retain all of the resentment and bitterness in our hearts. We should give it over to God and let Him heal us.
Parable: Matthew 18:23-35
If we don’t forgive others, there are consequences – eternal consequences! God does not want us to harbor unforgiveness in our heart. He does not want us to have our heart poisoned by bitterness—and suffer all of the mental, emotional and physical suffering that unforgiveness brings. And, we are to take care of the debt, right now, not later. Jesus said in Luke 17:3-4 3 Be on your guard! If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. 4 And if he sins against you seven times a day, and returns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you shall forgive him.” Forgiveness is a non-negotiable practice for true followers of Jesus Christ.
Lack of forgiveness breaks our fellowship with God.
“That’s why Jesus urged us back in chapter 5 verse 23 Therefore, if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there you remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.
We owe others forgiveness even when they don’t ask for it.
“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother” (Matthew 18: 15). God commands us to be the initiators. We should go to our brother or sister and talk it out.
We owe forgiveness to those who don’t deserve it.
When Joseph finally revealed that he, the 2nd in command for the most powerful nation in the world, was also their brother that they had sold into slavery, and who, as a result had spent years imprisoned as an innocent man, Joseph forgives. In Genesis 50:19-21 Genesis 50:19-21 But Joseph said to them, ‘Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. And during the stoning of Stephen in Acts 7:59-60: And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep. And most importantly, Jesus on the cross in the midst of his executioners (Luke 23:34: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do”
Jesus, our example, practiced forgiveness.
Sometimes it can be easier to die for Jesus than to live for Him year after year and fight the good fight. Jesus practiced forgiveness not only in His death, but throughout His life: John 8:7 “And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her” (John 8:7).
God gives us the ability to forgive others.
Ephesians 4:32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32). Forgiving can be one of the hardest things that God requires of us. He gives us the power, through the Holy Spirit. A good way to start on the path toward forgiving someone is to pray that God would allow you to see them like He sees them. Remind yourself that Jesus loved them enough to die on the cross for them, as well as you. Let God show you that they were created in His image too. He loves their soul too, and He doesn’t want them to suffer in this life, or in the eternal fires of hell. Let God break your heart for them and so heal you of the hurt that they have inflicted on you. Ephesians 4:32 – “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”