And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation…
I. A CONFESSION. That naturally comes first. With God as with man, the confession must go before the pardon. But, more particularly, as bringing out the alarming nature of these debts, notice these things regarding them:
1. The countless numbers of them.
2. They are always increasing. If they were lessening, however slowly, there would be hope. But, so far from diminishing, they are growing.
3. They are all taken account of. God's eye sees them all.
4. They are all to be reckoned for.
5. We can do nothing to meet them.
II. A PRAYER — "Forgive us our debts." The word "forgive" means remit, discharge, send away. The word is touchingly suggestive. About this forgiveness, and as a help to our asking it, I may make these three remarks.
1. It is free and gracious.
2. This forgiveness is complete; it takes in "all sin." It does not merely lessen it; it removes it, and leaves none remaining. I was once sent for, in great haste, to see a man who reminded me, more than any one I ever saw, of Bunyan's "man in the iron cage." He had at one time been on board a slave ship, and had taken part in the cruelties perpetrated against the poor, and as the spectacle of their sufferings rose up before him, he was in utter despair. When I was shown into his room, he was dashing his clenched hands against the wall at the back of his bed, crying out, "Oh my sins I my sins! hundreds I thousands! If ye would but take away the half of them I could bear it. I've been worse than ever Paul was, and he said he was the chief of sinners," &c. I never felt more the blessedness of having God's free, immediate, complete pardon to offer, as I told him that God never pardoned the half of any man's sins, that His way was to pardon all or none, that He Himself had put the prayer into the sinner's lips, "Take away all iniquity," and that He offered him now this present and full pardon for the sake of His dear Son.
3. This forgiveness is everlasting: the sins, the debts, never come back. They are cancelled. They are covered. This is an intercessory prayer, that is, a prayer for others. "Forgive us our debts." We come now to look at another element in this petition of the Lord's prayer, which I stated thus:
III. AN ENCOURAGEMENT, AND A PROMISE OR OBLIGATION — "As we forgive our debtors"; "for we also forgive."
1. It may be regarded as an encouragement to ask for. giveness from God. "Forgive us, as we forgive": "for we forgive." In so far as there is anything good in us, it was God who put it there. In this respect, God has made us like Himself. If I might so speak, it is a little bit of God's image in us. On a May morning, as you are crossing a field, you see a little bit of glass, or a little drop of dew on a blade of grass, shining like a little sun. That reflection of it gives you some idea of what the sun is.
2. We may regard this clause as containing a promise, or obligation, under which we come when we pray this prayer. It is more than a promise, but it has that wrapped up in it. It is a declaration that we have forgiven all who have wronged us, for the verb is in the past tense — "as we have forgiven our debtors." I am not fit to be forgiven, — I am not capable of receiving forgiveness, if I am unforgiving. If a child has his hand filled with a stone, and you offer him gold, or food, or ought else that is desirable, he cannot receive the one without casting away the other. His hand cannot take it in. It is indispensable, in the very nature of things, that he part with the stone, in order to be able to take the gold, without attributing any merit to/he casting away of what filled his hand before. And so, where an unforgiving spirit takes possession of any one — enters into and fills any heart — that heart cannot take in God's forgiveness. There is not the power to receive forgiveness. The unforgivingness must be cast out, that pardon from God may be a possibility.And after what fashion is it that this forgiveness must be exercised?
1. Heartily. It is of no use merely to say it in words. "If ye from the heart forgive not," says Christ.
2. Universally — entirely. What kind of wrongs am I to forgive? Every kind; not only the lesser, but also the greater,
3. Habitually. Not only now and then, but constantly. Few things touch us more to the quick than unkind and abusive letters. Some Christian people have been sorely tried by these. The late Dr. Cotton Mather received many of them. After his death, they were found among his papers, tied up in a packet, with these words written on the cover, "Libels — Father, forgive them."
(J. H. Wilson, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil.