Verse of the Day Devotion: Matthew 6:12
“And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. ” – Matthew 6:12
Our focus verse today is part of what we call the Lord’s prayer. It is in the Sermon on the Mount and speaks very clearly about forgiveness. This part of the prayer asks for forgiveness of the sins we commit. However, this part of the prayer contains a caveat; ‘as we have forgiven our debtors’. In other words, the prayer is asking God to forgive us as we have forgiven those who have done us wrong.
Later in Matthew, we see where Peter asked Jesus about forgiveness. “Then Peter came and said to Him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times? Jesus said to him, I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.” Matthew 18:21-22. The idea of seventy times seven is as often as needed and asked for. We are never to reach a point where we refuse to forgive when asked with sincerity. Note these verses. “Be on your guard! If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times a day, and returns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ forgive him.” Luke 17:2-4.
Jesus then speaks a parable regarding this idea. Note, Peter asks about forgiving and Jesus responds regarding debt, which again validates the translation to sin in the Lord’s prayer. “For this reason, the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. When he had begun to settle them, one who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him. But since he did not have the means to repay, his lord commanded him to be sold, along with his wife and children and all that he had, and repayment to be made. So the slave fell to the ground and prostrated himself before him, saying, ‘Have patience with me and I will repay you everything. And the lord of that slave felt compassion and released him and forgave him the debt. But that slave went out and found one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred denarii; and he seized him and began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay back what you owe. So his fellow slave fell to the ground and began to plead with him, saying, ‘Have patience with me and I will repay you. But he was unwilling and went and threw him in prison until he should pay back what was owed. So when his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were deeply grieved and came and reported to their lord all that had happened. Then summoning him, his lord *said to him, ‘You wicked slave, I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow slave, in the same way that I had mercy on you? And his lord, moved with anger, handed him over to the torturers until he should repay all that had owed him.” Matthew 18:23-34. The king forgave the man for a huge debt; however, this same man was unwilling to forgive a fellow slave of a small debt, therefore the king retracted his forgiveness.
Jesus told His disciples the following. “This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you.” John 15:12. We are to love our neighbor as Christ loves us. He loves us so much that He is willing to forgive us for absolutely all of our sins. This includes all sins in the past, present, and future. He sent His Son to die a horrible death in order to make this happen. In the above verse, we are called to love others as He loves us. And this kind of love is one that forgives others as He forgave us. And this includes our enemies. “You have heard that it was said, You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,” Matthew 5:44. Yes, we are to forgive our enemies. Remember the words of Jesus while on the cross regarding His enemies. “When they came to the place called The Skull, there they crucified Him and the criminals, one on the right and the other on the left. But Jesus was saying, Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing. And they cast lots, dividing up His garments among themselves.” Luke 23:33-34.
We are called to forgive those who do us wrong, those who are our friends, enemies, or those we do not even know. I know this is difficult, but it is absolutely important that we truly forgive anyone who does us wrong. And should it only be those who ask for forgiveness? I will answer that with a question. Did the soldiers who put Him on the cross as to be forgiven? And lastly, at the end of Jesus’ talk on the Lord’s prayer, He ends with the follow grim words. “For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.” Matthew 6:14-15. I know I need and desire forgiveness.
William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries, Inc.