Read the Lord’s Prayer (Matt. 6:9-13), especially the part that says, “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors” (6:12). There are several items in that prayer to which Jesus could have added a word of explanation, but he chose only to explain and emphasize the part of the prayer that deals with forgiveness.
He added, “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (6:14-15).
Why did he append these words to his example of acceptable prayer? — Because it is not easy to forgive, from the heart.
Yes, it is fairly easy (not totally easy) to say to that careless guy that put a ding in your new car’s paint job, “Oh, forget it. It’s no big deal” — or, to say to that woman whose bratty kid has just climbed your new living room drapes and yanked them down to the floor, “Oh don’t worry about it; my husband can hang them back up.”
But, it is another matter to say to the man who has molested your child, or the husband who has dumped you for another woman , or the employee who has embezzled you into bankruptcy and destroyed your business, “I forgive you.” It is hard to forgive the person who has hurt you or someone you love — hurt you bad!
Yet, when the Apostle Peter came to Jesus with the question: “How oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?” Jesus answered him, “I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven” (Matt. 18:21-22).
This is not easy to do — not easy at all. Yet if we are going to be Jesus’ disciples, we must learn to do it — we must learn the attitude that led him to say from his cross, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).
More to come, DB
“As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison.” Nelson Mandela