Summary: A discussion about "as we also have forgiven our debtors" in the Lord's Prayer

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We are continuing in our series entitled: Soul Matters: Shaping life around the Lord’s Prayer.

As we’ve gone line by line through this prayer… we begin to grasp that Jesus reveals the power of

prayer is not about getting God to serve our will….but about how we connect our lives into the

proper orbit around the love and will of God.

The created world and all life was created to exist in relationship to the source and center….just as

life on earth is dependent upon the Sun which is the center around which earth orbits.

Prayer is what maintains that orbit. As we’ve reflected on the first phrases so far…

Matthew 6:9-13

"'Our Father in heaven,

hallowed be your name,

your kingdom come, your will be done

on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us today our daily bread.

Each phrase in this prayer reflects something vital in aligning our souls.

Last week we were confronted with the call to pray: “Forgive us our debts…”

Today we come to the words that are connected…

Forgive us our debts,

as we also have forgiven our debtors.

It is a call to forgive others…but it is more than that.

It is a call to come as sinners who seek to be forgiven… and therefore AS THOSE WHO

FORGIVE OTHERS. Forgive us AS we have been forgiving.

Seeking God’s forgiveness… depends upon our forgiving others in the same way. [1]

Could he really mean that? Does receiving God’s forgiveness really require that we also


Well…Jesus seems to hear that question. So right after he finishes giving this model of prayer…

in verses 14-15 he makes this one point explicit. The only part that he singles out for additional

commentary is this petition.

Matthew 6:14-15 (TNIV)

For if you forgive others when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.

But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

Some of you may not feel the intensity of that statement….. you may not feel a lot of hurt from

others… or you may have a generally gracious demeanor. For some of us …. We may reel back

a bit. We may feel Jesus is drawing a line that doesn’t seem right.

After all… our anger often has seemed appropriate. It might help us to understand what forgiveness does not imply. Forgiveness is about cancelling

a debt that lies between us. We’ll talk more about that, but let me note now what forgiveness is

not. [2]

Forgiveness is not…

• Approving – we fear that if we forgive someone we are expressing some form of accepting

what they did…and we need to have them “get it.” But forgiving is very clear about what it


• Ignoring the offense – You don’t have to pretend nothing happened when you forgive. The

reality is an offense was made. Acting like it never occurred only builds resentment and anger.

• Forgetting – When you forgive someone, your memory isn’t suddenly wiped clean of the


• Regaining automatic trust - You don’t immediately trust the person who injured you when

you forgive them. That wouldn’t even be logical. Trust is earned, and they must earn trust


• Instant emotional healing – Emotions heal with time. Some pain runs deep and takes longer

to heal.

• A leverage of power – Granting forgiveness does not give a person power over the person

being forgiven. That would violate the entire principle and purpose of forgiveness.

But now we must hear Jesus… really hear him….

Forgiveness is also NOT OPTIONAL for those who receive God’s forgiveness.

That may seem a little extreme. After all…we’re only human. We might presume that God

would understand how hard it is.

Naturally we may wonder…how much does God really expect?

Well…one of Jesus’ first followers …Peter…the one who usually spoke out ahead of

thinking….asked that very question.

Matthew 18:21-22 (NIV)

Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins

against me? Up to seven times?" 22 Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven


We don’t really know if Peter actually meant his brother who, by the way, was named Andrew.

But the truth is about ninety percent of all resentment starts in the family. Most anger, most

resentment, happens to the people closest to you because you’re in daily contact with them. As

the old saying goes:

“To dwell above with those we love, that will be a glory…

but to dwell below with those we know – that’s another story.”

It is the people around us that we’re closest to that often hurt us the most. It’s much easier to

forgive a one time offense. But what if my brother keeps on hurting me over and over in the

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