Let’s read the words of the Lord in Matthew 6:14-15, “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”  Matthew 6:9-13 is what is commonly called the Lord’s Prayer.  A better name for this would be the Disciples’ Prayer.  The Lord Jesus gave this prayer to His disciples as a form of prayer for them to use.

Verses 14-15 are not part of this prayer, but the Lord spoke these words as an enforcement of the principle of Christian forgiveness.  He had instructed His disciples to pray in verse 12, “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.”  It’s important that we understand that the Lord is not speaking here of the forgiveness of God that gives us salvation.  He is speaking to men who were already saved.  The Lord’s instruction here has to do with that forgiveness of the Lord that we need every day as we live and often do those things that displease Him.  He is speaking of the basis in which the Lord practically deals with His children.

It’s to the believer that the Lord says in 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  Yet, this practical forgiveness will be hindered if we refuse to forgive those who have wronged or offended us.  In this world, we may often be treated terribly by unbelievers and believers alike.  They may abuse us, lie about us, hate us, and persecute us.  How are we to react?  Are we to demand compensation?  Are we to reject them and despise them?  NO!  The words of the Lord are to forgive them.

Why is this so important?  Why does the Lord consider this so highly that He would refrain from forgiving us when we refuse to forgive others?  I think the answer is quite simple.  When someone sins against us and we forgive them, we exhibit the characteristic of Christ in us and we glorify Him…our blessed savior.  In forgiving others, we manifest to them that we know the importance and beauty of forgiveness because we have experienced the forgiveness of God in our lives.   That forgiveness will certainly lead us to action as we read in Romans 12:20, “Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink…”

If we refuse to forgive others, the Lord, in His infinite mercy may see fit to chasten us.  It is an act of love from our Father to discipline us, so that we might learn the value of forgiveness towards others.  Hebrews 12:7 says of the Father, “…for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?”  My dear friend, may we learn the importance and value of forgiving others so that we might honestly pray, “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.”  (156.5)