And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors. Matthew 6:12
A debt is something that is legally or morally due. Metaphorically, debt is a point of offense or sin against the other. God alone can forgive sin, He alone can clear the debt owed by every human. And what does that debt forgiveness entail? In the case of sin, the release from judgment, the restoration of relationship, freedom from the guilt and shame of carrying a debt we cannot pay. Oh, how liberating is the release from the debt of sin! The weight of the world lifted from our shoulders and the shackles that once bound us now loosed so we can walk in true freedom!
But notice the curious way Jesus teaches us to pray, “Forgive us our debts, AS WE FORGIVE OUR debtors.” When we come honestly and humbly before God’s throne to pray, we extol the name and majesty of our sovereign God praising Him and asking for the help which only He can provide, and then, when speaking of forgiveness, the table is turned and we are taught to ask, basically, “Father, treat my debts toward you in the same manner in which I treat others who have wronged me.”
“Dear Father, I follow you in everything else, but in this area, follow me – forgive me to the extent that I forgive others.” And just so we know this isn’t a bad translation or get the wrong idea, Jesus repeats himself immediately following the end of this prayer. “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (6:14-15).
Dear one, we must release people from our personal judgment. We must keep short accounts of those who have hurt or offended or wronged us in any way. Let them go, let them off, release them, forgive them.
Not only because our very forgiveness from God depends on it, but because forgiveness is the heart of God. He gave everything so that we could be forgiven and restored. He doesn’t hold a grudge because our redemption cost His Son, He isn’t going to ‘get us back’ for that injustice.
Christ paid the price willingly out of love for His Father and for each of us. Will we then, after receiving such grace and mercy hold other people to a standard we ourselves could never meet? Forgive. Because it is Jesus’ way. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.