And forgive us our sins, for we ourselves also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. – Luke 11:4a
Only the truly regenerate children of God can develop a pattern of genuinely practicing forgiveness towards those who have sinned against us or offended us in any way. The idea here is that you forgive cheerfully and continually.
Have you found as a child of God that you don’t just forgive? When you forgive someone, you make a commitment that as an act of your will you are going to call your emotions into subjection. Every time your emotions rise up and say, “They shouldn’t have done that,” or “They hurt me,” your will takes over and says, “No, I am committing to be forgiving.” You fight to be a forgiver because the new heart enables you to do that. It doesn’t mean that you never blow it. No, it means that you are in the fight to overcome your flesh, your fallen emotions, and commit by an act of the will to be a forgiving person.
We must remind ourselves that as Christians we swim in an ocean of grace and mercy. How can we not show that same grace and mercy to others? Our debt to God is so great and so multi-faceted. If only one sin were held against us we would perish in eternal wrath. But God takes the whole legion of our sins and forgives them all. No Spirit-filled heart can bow at the foot of the cross and cry for forgiveness but refuse to forgive those who are indebted against us.
Think about that! Picture yourself kneeling at the foot of the cross where Jesus hangs for your sins, having received the crushing blow of God’s just wrath on Himself in your place, His precious blood dripping on the ground around you. And you look up to Him and say, “O Christ, forgive me, but I will not forgive my brother who has sinned against me.” It is absolutely impossible. It cannot happen. At the very least, the true child of God would say, “O God, I hate this unforgiveness in my heart. God, help me overcome it.” You may be starting there, but you’ll be there if you’re a child of God.