“Forgive us our debts, as we have also forgiven our debtors.”
Imagine if God were to treat us exactly the way we treat others. What kind of a God would He be? He might have a short fuse. Perhaps He would be condescending or arrogant. Maybe He would be quick to speak, quick to anger, and slow to listen. He might even hold a grudge, which could end up sending you to hell.
On far too many occasions, most of us forget all that we have been forgiven of and as a result, the actual enormity of God’s forgiveness has little to no impact on our daily lives. By the way, do you have a good grasp on what it means to “forgive”? In the original language is means to send from one’s self, to forsake, to hurl away, to put away, let alone, disregard, put off. It refers to total separation or total detachment. The form of the word conveys that it needs to be done with a sense of urgency.
Are there people in your life who hold a special place on your Mantle of Unforgiveness? Oh sure, you don’t complain about them openly…you don’t avoid them like the plague…you might even look their way and give a half-hearted smile, but there is still that nagging feeling. The wound is still open, though not mortal. You have not forgiven them.
Pastor Ray Pritchard writes, “Augustine called this text ‘a terrible petition.’ He pointed out that if you pray these words while harboring an unforgiving spirit, you are actually asking God not to forgive you. Ponder that for a moment. If you pray ‘Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors’ while refusing to forgive those who have wronged you, this prayer which is meant to be a blessing becomes a self-inflicted curse. In that case you are really saying, ‘O God, since I have not forgiven my brother, please do not forgive me.’”
One final nail in the coffin of an unforgiving spirit comes from Pastor John Macarthur:
“If we want to enjoy the benefits of God’s forgiveness toward us, we must be willing to forgive other believers, even those who repeatedly sin against us. Or, we can express this final principle more directly, which is that God does not forgive those who do not forgive others (Mt. 6:15-note). That does not mean that an unforgiving attitude nullifies a believer’s salvation. In the eternal scope of things, God forgives all the sins of those who are in Jesus Christ. But an attitude that refuses to forgive fellow believers will rob a Christian of his joy, peace, fellowship, and usefulness in the church.”
Please…stop robbing yourself. Forgive.