A Forgiving Spirit

“Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” Matthew 6:11

The first part of this petition is not so hard to say. Most people are willing to confess, at least in a general way, that they are debtors to God, that they have sinned. But the second part is harder to repeat. When some one has done us an injury, and we are feeling hard over it, it is not so easy to ask God to forgive us as we forgive. Perhaps we do not forgive at all, but keep the bitter feeling in our heart against our brother. What is it, then, that we ask God to do for us when we pray, “Forgive us as we forgive” ? God has linked blessing and duty together in this petition. If we will not forgive those who have wronged us, it is evident that we have not the spirit of penitence to which God grants remission of sins. If we would enjoy the sweet peace of God in our own breasts, we must keep our minds free from all bitterness and anger and all feelings of unforgiveness.

Forgive us, Lord, because we have forgiven,
Not as we have forgiven, is our prayer,
Earth is so lower far that highest heaven,
Man is not even as the angels are,
And thou to angels art as sun to star;
Measure thy pity not in our poor scale,
But in thine own which weighs eternities.
We do our little part, we strive, we fail,
Our wine of charity has bitter lees;
Our best unselfishness seeks self to please;
Our purest gold with base alloy is dim;
Our fairest fruit hangs tainted on the tree;
Our sweetest songs heard by the seraphim
Would all discordant and unlovely be,
Save for the charity they learn from thee.
But thou canst pour forgiveness with a word,
O‘er countless worlds an all-embracing ray,
Beyond our hopes, our best deserving, Lord,
Forgive us, then, and we in our poor way
Shall catch thy higher meaning as we pray.