The model prayer that our Lord Jesus gave us, contains several elements, and at this time we will study the part that deals with forgiveness, “And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors” Matthew 6: 12. Immediately after He finished teaching them how to pray, He explained to His disciples in even more detail why forgiveness was so necessary. 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.” Matthew 6: 14-15. Perhaps we have wondered why, if forgiveness is indispensable to maintain an optimal relationship with our Father and be with Him, it was not given more relevance in the Bible, but the fact is that the Lord Jesus Christ gave it plenty of relevance. He said clearly that forgiveness is essential to be in harmony with God and with our brothers and sisters. If we have a loving relationship with our fellow man, the relationship with the Father will happen automatically. Forgiveness is what corrects our mind. If we want to have a life of peace and joy, we need to master the lesson of forgiveness; how to forgive “our debtors” and to forgive our own selves. Our mind is corrected through forgiveness. That is what makes this lesson so important. In addition, there is nothing that our hearts may desire that is not achievable when the Holy Spirit has corrected our minds.
What prevents us from forgiving others is that we are in pain, severe pain, and we want someone to be held responsible for it, and be punished. We are demanding justice. However, everything has to do with the fact that we don’t know ourselves. We don’t think about, nor do we analyze the reason for, our pain. We see ourselves as victims and thus avoid taking responsibility for what is happening to us. We live in denial of the fact that we operate under the law of cause and effect, which means that every action will haves its own retribution. We are constantly presented with situations that require that we make decisions. How we face them will bring consequences, so we need to take them more seriously. But sometimes we make poor decisions, and others we just ignored them, hoping they will resolve by themselves. If we don’t take control of our lives, someone else will do it for us. But regardless of what course of action is decided, it will bring consequences and everyone is going to live with theirs. And if so, can we honestly blame someone else for our pain?
The Lord Jesus Christ used different ways of exemplifying forgiveness and also said, “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.” Matthew 5:23-24. We have the idea that we can please God with offerings, but we cannot make deals with God. We will not buy His favors with offerings. The Scriptures takes us back to the law: “First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.” That is the stipulated order. When we are in harmony with our brothers, our offerings will be accepted by God, our Father.
Each one of us is a member of God’s family. Our goal should be to have harmony with each family member. That is what pleases God. So we need to accept each other and look beyond everyone’s mistakes and differences and see each other with spiritual eyes. That is how we can perceive their true nature. We are not responsible for correcting anyone. Our responsibility is limited to accepting them and loving them as they are. We are not here to judge them; we are not capable of doing it so. It is the Holy Spirit that works on correcting the minds of all individuals. Our job is to work with the Holy Spirit on correcting our own minds, and interceding for others. We need to be alert in case we are called to assist someone. When that happens, we will feel a compelling need to approach that person, and we will know what to do. If we believe someone is acting out of place, our position should still be to ask God to correct that person’s mind, and our position should be to be kind and accept that individual.
If there is tension among ourselves, one way to learn to accept and to love them again, is daring to ask ourselves, what is the cause of the tension; and go and clear the situation, so the friendship is restored. Do not let pride or arrogance get in the way. Communication is essential for understanding. The joy and peace you will receive will show you what forgiveness brings in its wings. “What could you want forgiveness cannot give? Do you want peace? Forgiveness offers it. Do you want happiness, a quiet mind, a certainty of purpose, and a sense of worth and beauty that transcends the world? Do you want care and safety, and the warmth of sure protection always? Do you want a quietness that cannot be disturbed, a gentleness that never can be hurt, a deep abiding comfort, and a rest so perfect it can never be upset? All this forgiveness offers you, and more.” ACIM L-122-1.
Apart from all the benefits that forgiveness provides, you will experience what it is to feel accepted by the Father.
“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” Psalm 51:10.