And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors. – Matthew 6:12.
We daily sin much. This, surely, is certain. And we deserve nothing but punishment. And we do not deserve that God should accept and hear our prayers and petitions. But the Son of God, our merciful High Priest, who has atoned for our sin and guilt, bids us, after the manner of children, to go to our heavenly Father every day and pray: “Forgive us our trespasses.”
And our heavenly Father most assuredly forgives us, and does so with great loving-kindness. And He does not regard our sins, and does not charge our sins to us because they were already charged against “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:8 b).
Furthermore, our heavenly Father does not on account of our sins deny our prayer, but graciously, for Jesus’ sake, gives us all manner of good things. And then our Savior teaches us to promise and to vow that we will also forgive those who trespass against us. If our heavenly Father, on account of the perfect redemption by Christ Jesus for all sinners, daily and richly forgives us all our sins, and bestows all manner of blessings upon us, then, surely, we should also heartily forgive and readily do good to those who sin against us.
The knowledge of and faith in the grace of God, which makes new creatures of us, naturally effects this in us. He that will not forgive his neighbor does not truly know and trust in the grace of God, or has wasted it, as it were, and forgotten it. Such a one cannot obtain forgiveness of God, as the Savior Himself declared in Mark 11: “If ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses” (v. 26). And if, nevertheless, such a person prays the Fifth Petition of the Lord’s Prayer, he thereby invokes upon himself the wrath of God. For the Fifth Petition reads: “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.”
PRAYER – Dear heavenly Father, I pray, for Jesus Christ’s sake and at His bidding, that Thou would not look upon my sins, nor on their account deny my prayer which I offer to Thee. To be sure, I am worthy of none of the things for which I pray, nor have I deserved them, for I daily sin much, and indeed deserve nothing but punishment. But graciously continue to assure me of Thy forgiveness for Jesus’ sake. Having that assurance, I will heartily forgive and readily do good to those who sin against me, a poor sinner. So, help me by the grace of Thy Holy Spirit working through Thy wonderful Gospel of pardon and peace in Christ. Amen.
Forgive our sins, Lord, we implore;
remove from us their burden sore,
as we their trespasses forgive,
who by offenses us do grieve.
Thus let us dwell in charity,
and serve our brother willingly.
(Hymn 458, st. 6; TLH)