“If you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”
Verses 14-15 (NIV)
These verses from the Lord’s Prayer have been said by us time & time again. But do we really know what we are praying. The teaching here might be confusing. It almost sounds as if we have to earn God’s forgiveness by forgiving others. But we also know that through faith in Jesus, we are already forgiven by God (Acts 2:38; Romans 3-8). So how do we view these verses and how do we apply them to our lives.
In my childhood home we used a thin rectangular sponge at the kitchen sink. When that kitchen sponge hadn’t been used for a long time and you put it under the tap, the water ran right over the sponge. But if you set that sponge in a sink of water for a few minutes, it softened and became usable again
Our hearts can be like that sponge. When we hold onto resentments and bitterness, feeding our anger, we can become as hard as a rock, and God’s grace for us will be like water running over a rock. It doesn’t soak in.
But when we are open to forgiving others, we become soft like a moistened sponge. The Lord’s deep grace soaks in and envelopes our hearts, and we become available to share his grace. Just as a wet sponge moistens other things when it touches them, we can share grace, helping to wipe others’ dirt away as we forgive them. As Colossians 3:13 puts it, “Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”
Verses 14-15 in the Lord’s Prayer is about our willingness to forgive. It is about our attitude and our spiritual heart’s willingness to offer grace, while at the same time, die to our anger, resentment, and bitterness.
Soak my heart, Lord, in the depths of your abundant grace and mercy, that I may overflow with grace and mercy for others. For Jesus’ sake, Amen.