"But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses." Matt 6:15
Another area where we need to be generous is in forgiving others, irrespective of what they have done to us. As in the parable in today’s reading, we must recognise the huge debt that God has forgiven us and reflect our gratitude to God by forgiving the people around us. Our realisation that we ourselves are sinful people should lead us to be forgiving of others.
In the Lord’s prayer in Matthew 6:9-15, Matthew ends the passage with the statement that if we do not forgive others then God will not forgive us. This almost makes it appear that we earn our salvation by forgiving others. But that is not what Jesus is teaching here. What Jesus is saying is that if we have experienced the forgiveness of God, we will forgive others. If we are unable to forgive others, we have not experienced the forgiveness of God in our lives.
According to James 4:1-2 most fights and quarrels between people are about worldly issues – like property, reputation, status etc. In Christ, we have renounced these worldly desires and so we should have no problem in forgiving people for what harm they may have done to us in these areas.
If we are unable to forgive others, we must ask ourselves whether we have truly encountered Christ and have experienced His forgiveness. Or it could be that we have not turned away from the love of the world and so find it difficult to forgive. This is a worse situation, where we have been forgiven by Jesus but are not able to make that forgiveness a reality in our life and experience. Either way, we need to confess our sins and come to Jesus for a true healing.
One of the disciplines I have in my life is to identify what it is that makes me upset with people. I then release that to Jesus. It may be peace and quiet being shattered by noisy children. I tell God, “I am having a love for peace and quiet that is disturbing my relationship with the noise maker. I release that need into your hands. Teach me to live without it.”
When we have faith in Jesus for everything, we do not worry about the material things, and so we do not fight over material things.
Have you forgiven all who have hurt or harmed you?