When we get to this point in the Lord’s Prayer, we are reminded of two stories Jesus told. I have mentioned the first one a few times. It is the story of the unforgiving servant. The other one is about a young man, who demands his inheritance and heads off to a far country where he squanders it. Eventually, when a famine further adds to his destitution, he comes to his senses and returns home. He wants to be received back as a hired hand, in effect, he is offering to pay off his debt. However, his father welcomes him, embraces his and forgives him. Forgiveness is seen in that the dad doesn’t seek to put the son through the mill, hold an enquiry and ensure he feels as much shame as possible. Rather, he wants his son to know that he is loved and that there is great joy at his return.
When we pray “forgive us our debts” we are coming to the Father who knows our prayers before we ask. We are coming to an open hearted, generous and gracious God who is love. This prayer is not just a request but an expression of trust and worship. We are recognising that we have assurance that this is exactly how God treats us.
Our recognition of God’s grace and forgiveness should also affect how we treat each other. The story of the unforgiving servant is about a man who has been forgiven a great debt but demands that a smaller debt is repaid in full to him. At the heart of forgiveness is an understanding of God’s grace an generosity to us. I would also suggest that it is rooted in a generous spirit. It is easier to forgive when we hold lightly to position, possessions and reputation. It is not just that we let someone off a debt begrudgingly. We should enter into relationships with a generous mindset from the start.
Who do you need to forgive. As the Father who has forgiven you much to help you.