Forgiveness Matthew 6:12

"Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors."

After bread, forgiveness. After the wants of the body comes this prime necessity of the soul. "Give us our bread, forgive us our debts." It is put here as a daily spiritual need - something that we require as constantly as food.

1. Debts. - The Bible has many words for sin, but debt is the only word for it in the Lord's Prayer. In explaining this petition, our Saviour calls sins "trespasses," but in the Prayer itself we have only "debts." A debt is what is due but has not been done or paid. "Debts," "dues," and "duty" come from the same root. Sins are like debts in many ways, though not in everything, for the debts of the soul are more awful than any money debts can be. Sins represent duties that have not been met, and they make us guilty or liable to punishment.

2. Our debts. - Our debts are ours exclusively - without any subtraction, division, or partnership. They are ours as our eyes, our bones, and our soul are ours: they are ours alone; they cannot be ascribed to us and to some other person. It is in vain to blame others for them, as Adam blamed Eve, and Eve the serpent. Our temptations are not our sins, and our tempters cannot sin for us. Each is a solitary agent, and must bear his own burden of blame. And our debts are ours inseparably. Many tickets have the words, "Not transferable"; we are not allowed to hand them to some one else. Some people think that they may transfer their sins to pious relatives, to monks or nuns who pray and fast much, to priests, or to the Church. That cannot be; for there is only One who can say, "Put that on mine account."

3. The forgiveness of our debts. - A gospel is in the words. Here, in the Master's Prayer, given for the perpetual use of all men, is mention made of "sins" as belonging to all, and of "forgiveness" as ready for all; and the little particle "and" couples this petition, as though it were the easiest and most natural thing in the world, to the request for "daily bread." Could all this be so, if Christ our Lord were not teaching us that which God alone could know, that of which the reality could have been seen only in heaven, concerning that most impossible thing to flesh and blood - "the absolution and remission of our sins"?

Forgiveness is the miracle of miracles of the Gospel Dispensation. You count it a great thing - it is so - when you see the Holy Ghost breathing into dead matter newness of life; when you see the lifeless affection rekindled, and the sinner, buried in his lusts and passions, quickened out of that grave into newness of life. But surely even this miracle, were infinites comparable, might shrink into insignificance in contrast with that other. In this you see the effect, if not the instrumentality. You hear the wind, if you cannot track it. In the other, all is faith, all is supernatural, all is Divine, God, by the fiat of His own "Let there be light," bids the past, which is a real existence, shrivel up, and be no more. God bids the wicked act which you did last night, in your wantonness or in your refusal to reflect, to die with itself and bear no fruit. Did you think, when you lightly or summarily said last night's prayer, "Forgive us our sins," all, all that was involved in it? You might not - but Christ did. Christ, who presided over Creation - Christ, who became Incarnate that He might "become sin" - Christ took the measure of it. Christ taught that Prayer which you uttered - only I cannot tell whether the lips which said it meant it, felt it, or "babbled" in the uttering.1 [Note: C. J. Vaughan, The Lord's Prayer, 131.] 

to be continued