In our study of the Lord’s prayer, today we look at the petition of forgiveness found in Matthew 6: ‘Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.’
You have also heard this part of the prayer as ‘forgive us our trespasses.’ The word trespass can sometimes make us think of accidental grievances, which means we would be asking God to forgive us of our accidental sins, but this prayer is asking for much more than that.
This prayer, also known as the Lord’s prayer, has sin, debts, trespasses, as well as all rebellion against God in mind. We should understand what is meant by debt and debtors. Our sin created a debt to God that we could not pay, and Jesus paid that debt through his suffering and death for us.
Forgive Us Our Debts
This prayer is reminding us to continue to confess our sins, our debts to God and, in doing so, we remember what Christ has done for us. He paid a debt we could never pay. This prayer also reminds us that we are debtors to God, and in being debtors to God we are all in need of something: forgiveness.
The debt we owe to God is one that we have no ability to pay back – ever.
We all owed a debt we could not pay, so we need to be forgiven the debt, and this prayer reminds us of this. We have sinned, we owed a debt, and we needed to be forgiven of our sin & debt we owe. Through Christ we have been forgiven. Our debt has been paid in full. We are now the forgiven.
As We Also Have Forgiven Our Debtors
In Matthew 18, Peter asks Jesus, ‘How many times will I be wronged and have to still forgive? Seven times?’
Jesus told him, ‘No, seventy times seven.’ What Jesus meant is, ‘you will not stop forgiving.’ It’s not a math problem, it’s a point: the forgiven forgive.
No person who has been forgiven of their sin debt has any right to hold back forgiveness from anyone else.
Only those who truly understand what it means for God to forgiven their sin debt actually have the ability to forgive others in the same way. This prayer teaches us that our ability to forgive others is directly connected to our ability to understand what God has done in forgiving us. If you have experienced God’s forgiveness, then you know you must show the same mercy and grace to others that was shown to you.
The Forgiven Must Be Forgiving
This prayer teaches us that humanity’s greatest problem is sin, and our greatest need is forgiveness. It is also the greatest need of our fellow man – the forgiven must be forgiving.