Tit for Tat

“Our Father, Who art in Heaven

Hallowed be Thy Name…”

So begins what may be the most popular prayer for Christians today. Like many other people, I’ve known this prayer for so long that I don’t even remember learning it. It feels like I’ve always known it because I’ve prayed it so many times. So many times that it almost becomes a routine…and it’s easy to say the words without really stopping to think about them. Recently (in the past week or so), I’ve been thinking a lot about forgiveness, and Matthew 6:12 has been on my mind. “…And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors” (King James Version). The New Living version puts it this way “…And forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us”. Wow! Does this mean that the forgiveness of my sins is based on my forgiveness of others? To clear things up, Jesus re-emphasized this point right after teaching the disciples this simple, but powerful prayer.

If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Matthew 6:14-15 (New Living Version)

For if you forgive people their trespasses [their reckless and willful sins, leaving them, letting them go, and giving up resentment], your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their trespasses [their reckless and willful sins, leaving them, letting them go, and giving up resentment], neither will your Father forgive you your trespasses.” Matthew 6: 14-15 (Amplified Bible)

Forgive others as completely as you want to be forgiven…

Do not count the sins of others, and yours will not be counted…

Psalm 103:12 says that God puts our sins as far as the east is from the west; Micah 7:19 “…You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.” God puts our sins so far away from us, casts them into the depths of the sea where they cannot be recovered again (unless we decide to go deep-sea diving). God’s kind of forgiveness is total and complete, and ours must follow suit.

It is difficult sometimes (maybe all the time!) to really and completely forgive others especially when they willfully hurt us again and again, but this is what God requires of us. Loving God means pleasing Him. It pleases God when our hearts are free of resentment and bitterness. It pleases Him when we do what He has asked us to do. Forgive. Forgive. Forgive. Free your heart and let God fight your battles.

God doesn’t play around with words. He says what He means and He means what He says: I must forgive as I want to be forgiven. Period. No excuses.

Onyih Odunze