The Fifth Petition
Traditional: And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.
Contemporary: Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.
Alternate: Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.
“For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses." ~ Matthew 6:14-15
What is meant by this Petition? Answer. We pray in this petition that our heavenly Father would not regard our sins, nor deny us our requests on account of them; for we are not worthy of any thing for which we pray, and have not merited it; but that God would grant us all things through grace, although we daily commit much sin, and deserve chastisement alone. We will therefore, on our part, both heartily forgive, and also readily do good to, those who may injure or offend us.
What new is there to say about forgiveness? If you've ever been to a church service, or Bible Study, you certainly have heard all about it.
But maybe we've heard about it so much because it needs lots of repetition for it sink into us!
When we read the words of Jesus here in Matthew, we would do well to shake in our boots a bit. Forgiveness is more than a little important to Jesus.
But rather than focus on the worry about whether God will really not forgive us if we don't forgive others, let's think instead about why forgiveness is so important to God?
Or maybe the question is how does not forgiving get in the way of God's kin-dom coming on earth? How does it fly in the face of God's will being done?
How does not forgiving hold us back from experiencing God's kin-dom here on earth now? How does it stop us from being present to God's activity in the world?
What are the things we need to let go of in order for forgiveness to truly take root in us so that we can experience God's loving will?
How does forgiveness free us from the imprisonment of anger, hatred, and resentment?
If we are able to let go of those, maybe we will actually experience God's forgiveness in a way that is truly liberating.
A Prayer by Martin Luther: Dearest God and Lord, strengthen and uphold us in your pure, precious Word through Jesus Christ our Lord, and help us to show and live our thanks with our fruits of faith to your praise and thanks forever. Amen.