Forgive us our sins, for we ourselves also forgive everyone who fails in his duty to us.
~ Luke 11:4
Forgiveness Is the exclusive prerogative of Christianity. The schools of ancient morality had four cardinal virtues ~ justice in human relations; prudence in the direction of affairs; fortitude in bearing trouble or sorrow; temperance or self-restraint. But they knew nothing of mercy or forgiveness, which is not natural to the human heart. Forgiveness is an exotic, which Christ brought with Him from Heaven. As long as He abode on earth, He forgave, and He left it as an injunction and example that His people were to forgive even as they had been forgiven.
Our Lord does not mean that God’s forgiveness is measured by our own, or that our forgiveness is the cause of God’s. Neither of these is the true rendering of this clause; but that God cannot forgive an unforgiving spirit. The only sure index that our contrition and penitence are genuine is that we forgive those who have wronged us. If we do not forgive, it proves that we have never attained that true position of soul before God in which He is able to forgive.
How is it with you? Do you forgive? Or are there men and women that you obstinately refuse to forgive? If there are, it shows that your own soul is not right before God; your love to God is gauged by your love to men; your relationship to God is indicated by your relationship to your fellows. The man who does not love the brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. Discover where you are to-day. If there is anyone in your life that you refuse to pray for and forgive, know that your heart is wrong with God.
Do the first thing, begin to pray for them, and say: “Forgive us—that one who has hurt me, that man who has wronged me; he needs forgiveness, but I need it equally. We are both in the wrong. I might have made it easier for him to do right than I have done.” Second, ask for the opportunity to meet him. Third, claim that when you meet, there may be in you the royalty of God’s grace, that you may bear yourself with that rare, gracious love which covers the multitude of sins. Be willing that through your lips God’s pitying mercy may pass forth in words of human kindness and tenderness.
Forgive us, we pray Thee; put away our sin, as far as the east is from the west. Remember it no more, cast it behind Thee as into the depths of the sea. May we be kind one to another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ has forgiven us. Amen.