“Morning by morning, O Lord, you hear my voice”
Forgiveness and the Golden Rule
(Please read Matthew 6:12 and 7:12)
These two passages have more in common than their verse numbers. They show how Christians should treat one another if they expect the Lord to forgive their sins. If we forgive others, we are surely doing for them what we would want them to do for us.
But somehow it isn’t always as easy to forgive as it is to mouth the words of the model prayer in Matthew 6. We know we have to forgive in order to be forgiven, but we really want to get even first. Obviously, we can’t do that and ask God to forgive as we forgive, so we may try to strike a sort of compromise by saying we forgive while vowing silently not to have anything more to do with the one we “forgive.”
That course won’t work for us either. It is the equivalent of saying to the Father, “Avoid me as I avoid my brother who has sinned against me.” Obviously, we don’t want that, so there is only one answer: forgive in order to be forgiven.
Jesus knew we would have problems in this area, and he elaborated on this part of the model prayer, saying, “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins” (6:14-15, NIV).
We may have to pray for the ability to forgive, but we must develop a forgiving — that is, Christ-like — spirit. Then we can freely forgive even as we are freely forgiven.