“While wrongs are remembered they are not remitted. He forgives not that forgets not.”
The concerns in the Lord’s Prayer encompass both our well-being on this earth and our preparation for the world to come. We pray for daily bread to make life in this world bearable. We pray for forgiveness of sins to make life in the next world possible. Thomas Watson noted this dual emphasis, “Daily bread may make us live comfortably, but forgiveness of sins will make us die comfortably.” (The Lord’s Prayer, 211) The teaching of Jesus in this fifth petition, “forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors” (Matt. 6:12) accomplishes both heavenly and earthly ends.
It is right for us to be concerned first with ourselves when it comes to the confession of sin. Unfortunately, we usually find it much easier to deal with the sins and faults of our neighbor than the sins that call our hearts home. Jesus instructs us to go to God and seek his forgiveness. God delights in forgiving completely the prodigal who comes back to him bearing the mantle of repentance. As the Scripture says, “I, I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins.” (Isa. 43:25) And we, in wonder and awe of God’s glorious forgiveness, ask with Micah, “Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of his inheritance? He does not retain his anger forever, because he delights in steadfast love.” (Micah 7:18)
Now just as we have received the life-changing forgiveness of God, Jesus instructs us to treat others in the same way. We are to forgive those who are indebted to us. People who sin against us and act injuriously toward us must be forgiven if we are going to reflect the forgiveness that we have received from God. John Owen wrote, “Our forgiving of others will not procure forgiveness for ourselves; but our not forgiving others proves that we ourselves are not forgiven.” (Puritan Golden Treasury, 111) Who is indebted to you today? Who has sinned against you and caused you grief? You are free not to forgive them, just remember that you will not receive from God what others cannot receive from you. Have a blessed week and we will see you on Sunday.
Love in Christ,