At thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore (Ps. 16: 11)
After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen (Matt. 6:9-13).
The next petition is a bear. It is the one part of the prayer that the Lord goes back to comment on after He is done teaching the prayer (Matt. 6:14-15). There He says bluntly that if we forgive, our heavenly Father will forgive us. He says also that if we refuse to forgive, then our trespasses will not themselves be forgiven.
The word used in the prayer is the word for debt or obligation, while the word in the Lord’s commentary is the word for sin or trespass. The word rendered as forgive is the same word throughout. We ask God to forgive our obligations to Him, and we show our understanding of what we request by extending that same forgiveness of obligations that others owe to us. When the Lord goes back to comment on it, and uses the word for sin or trespass, this shows that He is including the obligations we create by our misbehavior, or by our falling short. This means that when we ask God to forgive us for those things that we did on purpose, we must also be fully prepared to forgive others for the things they did to us on purpose.
We often confuse forgiveness with pardon. We are prepared to pardon others for the things they did accidentally. If someone bumps into you in a crowded room, jostling you accidentally, he will say, “Pardon me,” and you will say, “Don’t mention it.” But forgiveness is required when the person does it on purpose. We often respond that we can’t forgive that—he did it on purpose. But the only things you can forgive are those things that were actually sins. That is what God forgives in us, is it not?
So the reason it is a bear is that we tend to judge others by their words and actions, and we tend to judge ourselves by our intentions and motives. He did this, while I meant that. This is simply a way of using unequal weights and measures, and it is not surprising that those who wrong us come up short so frequently.
The thing we must seek to learn in all this is the perspective to see ourselves as one of the characters on the stage, and to look at the scene as a whole—instead of trying to interpret every scene with one character missing (you).