Jesus tells us to pray for forgiveness. But before they can pray this, they must understand that they need to pray it. That is to say that they have to have a sense of the fact that there is sin in their life.
The trouble is, most people have a wrong conception of sin. They think that those who commit crimes, those who are hurtful to others, those who don’t live respectable lives (whatever respectable means), these are the people who sin. So many people don’t believe that sin has anything to do with them. “As long as I live a good life, I’m okay,” they think.We all have things we do that affect others negatively, or that hurt others, or that bring some bad into the world. So when we pray “forgive us our sins,” we are acknowledging that we are not perfect, but in fact have sin in our life. And even more, we are acknowledging that only God, through Jesus Christ, can forgive our sins.
But along with being forgiven, we need to learn how to forgive. To understand about the forgiveness we receive from God, through Christ, really comes once we learn how to forgive others. This phrase reminds us that we will be forgiven in proportion to how much we forgive others. So if we refuse to forgive others, or can’t bring ourselves to forgive others, then God will not forgive us. This might sound harsh, but it really isn’t, because human forgiveness and divine forgiveness are linked with each other.
If all we do is ask for forgiveness, we will not understand what it means to receive it. But once we start giving forgiveness to others, we understand what forgiveness is about. We understand that it is not easy to forgive. We understand that it is overlooking the wrong that has been done. We understand we have to rise above the hurt that we feel from being wronged. And we learn that we must seek to understand the circumstances which caused this person to sin. If we cannot put things right with our fellow brothers and sisters of this world, then how can we expect to put things right with God? In forgiving others, we learn how to stop judging, and we learn how to forget. Only then can we receive the forgiveness that God has for us.
The Bible tells us that only Jesus Christ can provide for our physical needs, and our spiritual needs. Only in Jesus can we understand about the need to forgive others and receive forgiveness. Only in Jesus can the hunger of personal peace and meaning and purpose of life come about. May we understand today and always, that God is our provider, our sustainer, and the one who teaches us how to forgive and be forgiven.