Reflections of Our Savior
The Fifth Petition of the Lord’s Prayer:
“Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us.”
What does this mean?
We pray in this petition that our Father in heaven would not look upon our sins or because of them deny our prayers; for we are worthy of none of the things for which we ask, neither have we deserved them, but we ask that he would give them all to us by grace; for we daily sin much and surely deserve nothing but punishment. So we too will forgive from the heart and gladly do good to those who sin against us.
Dear members and friends of Our Savior:
We would all agree that “forgiveness of sins” is the heart and core of our faith. Christ our Savior came to pay for our sins on the cross and earn for us full and complete forgiveness. By God’s grace, through faith in Christ our Savior, we stand before our God forgiven and free from punishment and guilt for our sins. Often, when Christians are asked what they pray for the most, the answer is given “for forgiveness.” It gives us great peace of mind when we know we can go to our loving God for forgiveness of our daily sins knowing that our sins are washed away. What comfort it gives us that we are at peace with God!
But the Fifth Petition of the Lord’s Prayer goes beyond our forgiveness. As Luther reminds us in his explanation, in the Fifth Petition we tie our forgiveness from God together with the ability and motivation to forgive others. In other words, through forgiveness of our sins earned by Christ our Savior we have both peace with God and the ability and motivation to live in peace with others, including those who sin against us. That is Jesus’ point in a parable of a master and servant in Matthew 18: “I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn't you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?” This is also why the Apostle Paul can write in Ephesians 4:“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
So the question is, “Do we forgive others? Even our enemies?” Living a life of forgiveness is a challenge indeed for many of us. Many of us are inclined rather to hold old grudges, relive old hurts, and even claim to live in peace with God while not at peace with others. To that aspect of our sinful, human nature Jesus gives this warning: “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.” (Matthew 6:14,15)
With the Lord’s admonition in mind, we can see how important it really is to pray boldly and persistently not only for forgiveness of our sins but also for the desire and ability to forgive others and to live in peace with those who have sinned against us. And we pray in faith-faith that when our Savior Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead, He did that for us. Even though we do not deserve the Lord’s forgiveness, He forgives us and others anyway, because of His grace. What a privilege and blessing it is to extend that free grace to others as well!!
“Lord, give me the ability to forgive as I have been forgiven! AMEN”