When we rightfully evaluate righteousness and holy living according to godliness, we realize “I have sinned and rebelled against God way more than any human being has ever sinned and rebelled against me. If God can forgive me my transgressions and debt and still remove the death penalty from me, then certainly I can show someone forgiveness for this little sin. No one has sinned against me more than I sinned against God.”
“[Father] forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors.”
In the middle of Jesus’s example prayer, he tells us we should request forgiveness. The question was asked Jesus, “How do we pray?” (Luke 11:1). Jesus provides a simple, concise (and all of us who struggle with words said “amen”), and direct example. Based on Matthew 6 we know it’s our sincerity that matters the most (amen!). The prayer, one Jesus never had to pray, is simple and recognizes 1. that I sin 2. There is forgiveness because of the cross and 3. God is who we turn to in order to find it. 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sin, He is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
The second part seems weird in a prayer, “as we also have forgiven our debtors.” It’s a rather simple statement. Obviously it connects to the first one, but it really isn’t an exaltation, request, nor intercessory. Why is it there? It’s there because reconciliation to other human beings matters. It recognizes that not only do I sin against God, but unfortunately, in this world, people sin against each other, I sin against others, and others will sin against me. This is reality. When this happens, not only must we pursue reconciliation with God, but we must pursue reconciliation with the person we sinned against.
When we look at this phrase, there is a connection between the request to be forgiven and the comment regarding our forgiveness. However, it would be wrong to make the connection, “I am forgiven based on my forgiveness or being forgiven by other people.” God does not say, “Before I grant you forgiveness, you must go and reconcile with every person you’ve sinned against in order for me to grant you forgiveness. Amen! I sinned against some other classmates in high school, jr. high, and college. I do not have any of these people’s number, email, friends on Facebook, nor on Twitter. God does not withhold forgiveness to me because I cannot find them and ask forgiveness. In fact, the Lord knows, if I ever saw them, I’d ask forgiveness. The key here is willingness and “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. ” (Romans 12:18).
Instead, Jesus is saying something else. The relationship between the request and the comment in 6:11 draws our mind to the necessity to forgive others. Preaching through Matthew Jesus warned of false teachers and leaders (Matthew 7; 23) and he talked about the good heart producing good fruit. But he rarely tells believers to doubt their salvation. He says the poor in spirit, those who hunger for righteousness, pure in heart, merciful, and peacemakers are blessed. To be blessed is to be happy because of your eternal state. Jesus wants people to rely on Him, trust Him, and rest in Him. He rarely offers a warning to true believers.
In fact, His false teacher warnings are here for believers so we are not lead astray by them. His fruit comments cause us to reflect on our works to evaluate where our heart and treasure rest. But even then, the implication isn’t a direct comment. So it’s interesting to me, when Jesus talks about what should make a believer doubt his or her salvation, we need to listen. Why? Because it’s emphatic! What is it Jesus says?