Alms, Prayer, & Fasting 6:1-18
Forgiveness v. 12 (see also vv. 14 & 15) – Part 2
“As we forgive” is more accurately translated “as we have forgiven”. The assumption is that in invoking the forgiveness of God we’ve already swept our house clean in terms of any dustup we may have had our injustice suffered with our neighbour. Jesus won’t countenance any prayer for divine forgiveness on any other terms. Indeed in vv. 14&15 he says, “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.” Unlike our Father in Heaven, we cannot forget sins agains us (see Is. 38:17; Mi. 7:19), but we can forgive. To forgive is an act of the will. So even while the memory of an injustice and/or a hurt remains, we can choose to forgive and move on. This is why Jesus, in 5:43, calls us to love our enemies. We can do so because love is volitional. If he had insisted that we “like” our enemies we’d all he miserable failures.
Essentially “forgive” means “to send away”. We ask the Lord to send away our missing the target, our step across the line, our slip, our lawlessness, our failure to pay the debt. He forgives because of his grace, our renewal is the product of undeserved favour. And he expects us in a “quid-pro-quo” manner to be graceful with our neighbours. This way our souls are healed.