Forgive Others

black cross statue
“For if f you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you,  but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”   Matthew 6:14-15

Does forgiveness flow through you?  Or just to you? 

In a former church, we pastors used to sit down with kids who were getting ready to be confirmed.  It wasn’t an “examination” as much as it was a conversation about faith, what they’d learned, and what it meant to be a confirmed Lutheran.

One of the questions I liked to ask was this:  “If you refuse to forgive others who sin against you, will God still forgive you?”  Invariably the answer I would get would be, “Oh, of course He’ll still forgive me…even if I’m not willing to forgive others.”

Really?  What does Jesus say?

Jesus gives us a pretty stern warning here.  Don’t expect to be forgiven if you refuse to forgive others.


He punctuates this particular teaching with a story later in the Gospel of Matthew: The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant.  In that story, a servant is forgiven his whole debt by his Master, the equivalent of millions of dollars, but then that servant goes out and has his fellow servant thrown into prison for not paying back a few dollars’ worth of debt. 

The implication is clear:  how can we refuse to forgive such a small debt of sin to our neighbor when God has forgiven all of our sins!  The story ends with weeping and gnashing of teeth – never a good thing.

God expects us to be willing to forgive others, and as Jesus taught Peter “not seven times, but seventy times seven.”  (In other words…every time they need it!).

God help us to find those unforgiving areas of our heart so that He might melt our coldness with the warmth of His forgiveness and grace.  To the end, that forgiveness might always flow through us, not just to us.

Heavenly Father, despite all of our sins, we sometimes struggle to forgive others.  Remind us of your unlimited grace, and help us to share it with others be forgiving whatever grievances they may have against us.  For Jesus’ sake, Amen. 

One Response to “Forgive Others”

  1. Holly says:

    I apologize all the time in my prayers. Does that count for anything… or is the one we aren’t forgiving… that personally needs to hear the forgiveness?

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