Jesus said: “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”
One day, in response to his apostle's request to teach them how to pray, Jesus taught them the beautiful prayer that has come to be known as 'The Lord's Prayer.' It is a prayer that we all know, and many of us recite it daily. However, there is something that we say in it that seems to skip our attention: Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.
We are telling our Father - nay, we are *praying* to our Father - to forgive us our sins to the proportion we forgive others. But we don't get it. And Jesus knew we wouldn't get it, so after he taught his apostles this prayer, he said, "For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins."
“But why?” you might ask. “Why would a loving, merciful and compassionate God withhold his forgiveness?” Jesus explains in a parable you will find in Matthew 18. A king wants to settle accounts with his servants, and one of his debtors is a man who owes him a great deal of money. Because he can't pay it back, the king orders that he, his family, and everything he owns be sold to pay back his debt. The man drops to his knees and begs the king for a little time to settle his debts.
The king laughs because the debt is so huge, even if he had ten lifetimes to pay it back, he wouldn't be able to do so. But the king is merciful and takes pity upon the servant and wipes out his debt completely. The man leaves, but soon after leaving the palace, he comes across another man who owes him a little bit of money. He catches his man and demands he be repaid. This man drops to his knees and begs for a little time, but the servant shows no mercy. He has him thrown into jail.
A few courtiers saw this and were outraged. They complain to the king, who sends for the servant. 'You wicked servant,' he said, '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?' In anger, his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed." As we just saw, there was no way this man could pay back his debt, so in effect, he was being sentenced to rigorous life imprisonment.
Then Jesus says this — please listen carefully — "This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart." This isn't because God wants us to suffer, but because when we don't forgive others, we show that we take his forgiveness for granted, not understanding it cost Jesus every drop of his blood to secure it. When we forgive others, we show ourselves to be children of God, acting divine like he is. When we don't, we effectively say we would prefer to act like children of the devil, who will ensure we suffer.
If we understand this, we will forgive everybody else. Please do this, dear friend; you will be blessed for it.
May the Spirit be with you.