"and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors." Matthew 6:12
Immediately following the ‘Our Father’ model prayer that Jesus gave in Matthew chapter six He adds, “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.” Most of us would respond to this with wonder at how this can be. We understand that God can forgive but can I? I trust in God but I do not have that same confidence in me that I will forgive. I needed to be saved from my slavery to sin and I need help. Can I really forgive?
In Luke we learn more about forgiveness from Jesus where He says, “Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, 'I repent,' you must forgive him." The apostles said to the Lord, "Increase our faith!" ---Luke 17:3-6
Okay, now I’m seeing a connection to a brother who repents to me I must forgive. If my brother sins against me over and over again then I must forgive over and over again. But let’s pay attention here to what Jesus said, “If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents forgive him.” Jesus is telling me to go to the one who sinned against me and tell him about it. Then if my brother receives it and repents to me then I must forgive my brother. I must admonish the one who sins. I have a step to take to rescue my brother! We don’t just forgive over and over again only, we correct over and over again and if my brother repents of the sin, then I am to forgive every time.
So if you are holding back forgiveness from someone ask yourself, “Did I tell them what they did wrong to me?” Think about our salvation we have freely received from God our Father through Jesus by the Holy Spirit. The Lord told us we sinned and needed to repent. We then accepted the truth, repented, and our God forgave us.
The apostles said, “Increase our faith!” in response to instruction on forgiving others. Let us trust in our God, consider the forgiveness He has bestowed on us because we repented, and obey His instruction to correct those who sin against us. Then if they repent, we are in debt to extend forgiveness back to them.
Let the mercy, grace, and peace of God be with us all through the Lord Jesus Christ!