The Lord’s Prayer, Part 5 of 6

Published by DonDavidson on

And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.

This is part 5 of our deep dive into The Lord’s Prayer. Links for Parts 1 through 4 are provided below.

Part 1      Part 2        Part 3      Part 4

We have come to Matthew 6:12, which says: “And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.”[1]

Note that this prayer assumes that we do in fact forgive those who sin against us. As if to emphasize this point, immediately after giving us the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus says:

For if you forgive other people for their offenses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive other people, then your Father will not forgive your offenses.[2]

In part this is simply a matter of fairness, as Jesus points out in his parable of the unforgiving slave.[3] In that parable, a slave who owed his master an impossible sum of money[4] pleads for time to repay the debt, lest his master sell him and his entire family into slavery. The master feels compassion for his slave and forgives the entire debt. Then the slave abuses a fellow slave for failing to repay a much smaller sum of money.[5] When the master learns of this, he is incensed. He orders the unmerciful slave to be punished, telling him: “Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow slave, in the same way that I had mercy on you?” Jesus concludes the parable by saying: “My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart.”

So the lesson is that we should forgive those who sin against us because God has forgiven us for far more.

But I believe God’s insistence that we forgive others is not merely a matter of fairness. It is also a matter of necessity.

Many of these people who have hurt us will probably end up in Heaven. And God tells us that Heaven will be a place where he “will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.”[6]

How can this ideal be achieved if we continue to harbor grudges, bitterness, and anger against those we may meet in Heaven? How can Heaven be a place free of tears and pain unless we let go of our desire to hurt those whom we believe have wronged us in the past?

A willingness to forgive may well be the price of admission to Heaven. If we insist on holding on to our resentment, we might be turned away at the gate.

I discuss the subject of forgiveness at greater length in Chapter Two of my book, Beyond Shallow Faith, entitled “Sharing Heaven.” You can find a list of contents and chapter excerpts for that book here, and you can read a short excerpt from the chapter “Sharing Heaven” here.

Link to Part 6

[1] This is the New American Standard Bible translation. Other translations use “sins” or “trespasses” instead of “debts.”

[2] Matthew 6:14-15

[3] See Matthew 18:23-35.

[4] The slave owed 10,000 talents. A talent was equivalent to about 15 years of wages for an ordinary laborer.

[5] This second slave owed 100 denari. One denari was equivalent to a day’s wages for an ordinary laborer.

[6] Revelation 21:4. See also Revelation 7:17.


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