We owe God so much there is no way we can ever get out from under this load of debt except through His merciful forgiving of it. And so we should show mercy and forgive those who sin against us–even our enemies who hate us. We forgive because we are forgiven of so much!
“Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.” “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”
We are in debt to God because, in spite of His goodness to us, we have broken His law. We have trespassed deliberately or unintentionally missed the mark, and it keeps on happening every day.
. We are not even to covet “things,” much less be sexually active outside of marriage.
. We are to love God and our neighbors with our whole heart.
. We are to tell the truth.
. We are to respect our parents and other authorities.
We keep adding to this debt load every day just like someone who keeps on shopping and eating out even though she has to keep taking out new credit cards to do it! Think about how huge your debt or pile of trespasses is and what Jesus endured to pay that debt. Our hearts are filled with thankfulness. How can we not forgive others?
Forgiveness is a gift to us. Our repentance prepares our heart for receiving forgiveness, but it does not earn us forgiveness. Even our forgiving others doesn’t cancel out all our previous trespasses. Our conscience condemns us and the only way we can have peace is to be forgiven. And once we have experienced forgiveness and peace, then it is our duty to forgive others. When we humble ourselves and refuse to seek revenge or pay someone back, we are experienced grace ourselves and our debt has been wiped clean. When we forgive others, it is a sign and evidence that we have been forgiven. This assurance warms our hearts even more. It bring us back again to the whole focus of our prayer, our delight and joy in our relationship with our heavenly Father.
“It means that the proof that you and I are forgiven is that we forgive others…True forgiveness breaks a man, and he must forgive. So that when we offer this prayer for forgiveness we test ourselves in that way…I say to the glory of God and in utter humility, that whenever I see myself before God and realize even something of what my blessed Lord has done for me, I am ready to forgive anybody anything. I cannot withhold it, I do no even want to withhold it..” (Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Sermon On the Mount, Vol.II,,p.75-76.). Thomas Watson said basically the same thing in The Lord’s Prayer, p. 256.
What a comfort and assurance this is when we experience it. God delights in mercy (Micah 7:18) and so should we.
It is important to memorize the Lord’s Prayer and recite it often in church and at home. Then to explain to the children that it is a pattern we are to follow when we pray.
The best way to teach the meaning of forgiveness is to model it in front of the kids. If you forgive your husband instead of taking into account the ways he has wronged you, they will notice. If you forgive them quickly and right away when they fail to obey you, they will love you for it. Of course, it goes without saying that they must also reap what they sow by suffering the consequences of their own disobedience of you. That is why I liked it better when parents could openly spank their little children. The consequence was quick and right there. Then, the love and forgiveness could be experienced right then, and everyone could move on. Hopefully, to obedience and an honoring of the parent but one that was mixed with love because of the comfort that comes with forgiveness. I was blessed with a forgiving Mother. I never doubted her love, nor did I doubt that there would be consequences for dishonoring her. Her rod of correction was a branch off the hibiscus bush! I hope you will forgive your children quickly, but without forgetting that discipline is an important part of being a parent.