Forgive So You Can Be Forgiven

By: Bill Bratt

We are all familiar with what is called the "Lord’s Prayer" given in Matthew 6 verses 9 through 13. The fifth request in this "model prayer" is: "And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors."

The Greek word for ‘debts’ is ‘opheilema’, and is defined in Strong’s Concordance 3783 as "something owed, i.e. (fig.) a due; morally a fault:--debt." Ryrie Notes says: "debts. These are obligations incurred; i.e., sins of omission and commission. Forgiveness means "cancellation of these debts or obligations.""

The Greek word for ‘debtors’ is ‘opheiletes’, and is defined in Strong’s Concordance 3781 as "an ower, i.e. person indebted; fig. a delinquent; morally a transgressor:--debtor, which owed, sinner."

What is the definition of ‘forgiveness’? To ‘forgive’ is "to give up resentment of or claim to requital for an insult, to grant relief from payment of a debt, to cease to feel resentment against an offender: to PARDON, forgive one's enemies, to grant forgiveness."

Notice that Jesus is telling us, as we pray to the Father, that we are asking Him to forgive us of our debts, faults, and sins as we forgive others who owe us a debt or has transgressed against us.

Let’s focus now on the two verses that immediately follows the "Lord’s Prayer." Matthew 6:14 says: "For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: {15} But if you forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses."

The Greek word for ‘trespasses’ is ‘paraptoma’, and is defined in Strong’s Concordance 3900 "a side-slip (lapse or deviation), i.e. (unintentional) error or (wilful) transgression:--fall, fault, offence, sin, trespass."

Jesus is giving us a warning here that if we do not forgive others of their transgressions against us then God will not forgive us of our transgressions.

Let’s digress for a minute. We all sin daily. The apostle Paul said: "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23).

What is sin? The answer is found in 1 John 3:4: "Whosoever commits sin transgresses also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law." Obviously the Law being transgressed is the Ten Commandments.

We need to recognize and repent daily of our sins, short-comings and rebellion against God and the laws of God (Acts 2:38, Psalms 51). We must ask God to forgive us but we must do something first before God will forgive us.

God requires that we must first forgive others before He will forgive us. Jesus said: "But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, 'Raca!' shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, 'You fool!' shall be in danger of hell fire. {23} "Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, {24} "leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift" (Matthew 5:22-24).

God will forgive us of our sins as we forgive those who have sinned against us.

If you have a problem in this area then ask God to clean you up and replace the spirit of hate with the spirit of love. It is a great feeling to know that you have no hatred for any man. We need to learn to forgive like God forgives. "For as the heavens are high above the earth, So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him; {12} As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us" (Psalms 103:11-12).

God forgives and forgets "as far as the east is from the west."

We must forgive others so God will forgive us.

Forgiving Can Be Hard To Do

Forgiving a person who has wronged you is one of the greatest challenges of life. Those who hold grudges and unforgiveness are burdened with misery and guilt. Those who refuse to forgive can be filled with resentment and guilt. Their hostility can encompass them. Unforgiveness may go unnoticed by the person to whom it is directed, but it defiles the one who carries the burden of it. It could literally destroy the body and the mind of the one bearing the grudge or guilt. You could go into a state of depression with element of unforgiveness constantly on your mind.

Forgiveness is not something one does easily. The normal reaction is to retaliate or hold on to the resentment or grudge. The truth is that when you hold on to unforgiveness against anyone who has wronged you, it separates you from God and His blessings, and that person in a sense controls your life even though they may not know that you have any resentment toward them, so the person who it is hurting is you.

God has called you to forgive which sets you free from resentment, guilt and sin. Obviously this, then, allows God to bless you so you can enjoy His abundant blessings.

Forgiving Yourself

Sometimes a person will commit a sin and it hurts someone else. Let’s use a hypothetical example where you hit someone with your car and they become disabled. It was your fault. You are guilty and you have to bear the guilt of their pain and suffering. How do you forgive yourself? This could lead a person to feel it is not right to forgive yourself because in the process of doing so, it’s like forgetting or condoning the past wrong. We must keep in mind that forgiveness is a process of mindfulness in which you continue to remember what happened but you do not condone the wrong thing that happened

It is okay to say: "I am not proud of what I have done, but I have to move on for the sake of my health and the sake of my family." But you must openly acknowledge what you did was wrong and you have the intention to set it right and never do it again.

In Conclusion: Let’s try to be like God when it comes to forgiveness, ‘Forgive others as far as the East is from the West.’

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