“If you forgive others for their sins, your Father in heaven will also forgive you.” Matthew 6:14

 

Jesus made this statement right after the closing line of what is called The Lord’s Prayer which says, “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” I think that the idea expressed in the forgiveness passage is connected to the prayer expression about temptation. Firstly, God does not lead people into temptation, we accomplish that task on our own by allowing Satan to get into our lives again. It is our own wandering that puts us into temptation’s path. Since salvation is a one time, done thing; sin has lost it’s soul-level hold on us; and God did all of this to draw us to Him, to be close to us every moment of every day from the moment of grace to the end of all time, it is illogical for God to lead us into a situation that would conspire against these realities. One thing that I have come to understand about God is that He is not illogical; He is the source of the order in the universe that we can contemplate as logic, He is the essence of logic.

 

Therefore, I come back to the original passage and the seeming conditional nature of our forgiving others as it relates to God’s forgiveness of us. As stated above, I believe that our forgiveness, in the total sense is a one time thing that is done and finished in the acceptance of Jesus. There is still the problem of how we live and how we hurt others through our sinful behaviors. There is a very real need for grace and for forgiveness in our daily lives as Christians; perhaps, especially as Christians, for we can become very judgmental and terribly rigid in our dealings with others. We set up standards that are impossible, we attempt to sit in God’s judgment seat to rule over the righteousness of other people’s lives, we hold onto the past and define others by their past failures. This is the nature of people; it is so very damaging to the process of growth and to seeing others as God does.

 

Jesus is calling upon each of us to do something unnatural in this statement. He says that regardless of how others are behaving and despite the past, we, I, am under direction, mandate even, to look upon those in my world as Jesus does. Instead of doing what seems to come so naturally and assume a position of judgmental superiority, God says to place myself into a position of total humility by viewing others from the vantage point of Jesus as He was on the cross, looking at a group of people who are brutally killing Him and asking the Father to forgive them. I am never and I never will be in a place that is as dark and bitterly painful as was Jesus then; why do I have any right to be less forgiving of anyone than He was in those circumstances and than He is at this moment.

 

It is up to me to take this mandate to heart and to forgive, to be the peacemaker, to be the one who gives back love. God has forgiven me, He wants me to be an image of Him in my world.