This is the tenth in a series of blogs on the ease of reading the words of Jesus in the book of Matthew … and the difficulty of following them.
Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
Having my debts (i.e., sins) forgiven is a good thing. I am comforted by the words in I John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
However, I am concerned about the “as we forgive our debtors” in this prayer.
I’m concerned because it is easy to accept forgiveness, it’s very hard to offer it.
I’m concerned because I read the same exhortation in another passage (Mark 11:26):
But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.
And recall the story of the unforgiving servant (Matthew 18:21-35). A servant owed a debt to his king – a debt that he could not pay. The servant begged for mercy and the king forgave the debt. However, the servant went out and found a fellow servant who owed him an insignificant amount – insignificant compared to the debt he had just had forgiven. Unlike the king, he did not forgive the debt owed him, and when the king heard the news:
[He] summoned the man and said, ‘You evil servant! I forgave your entire debt when you begged me for mercy. Shouldn’t you be compelled to be merciful to your fellow servant who asked for mercy?’ The king was furious and put the screws to the man until he paid back his entire debt. And that’s exactly what my Father in heaven is going to do to each one of you who doesn’t forgive unconditionally anyone who asks for mercy, (The Message, Matthew 18: 32-35).
It’s easy to accept forgiveness, it’s very hard to offer it.
Links to the previous blogs in this series can be found at Links to So Easy To Read, So Hard To Do.