“This, then, is how you should pray: 'Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’
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." -Matthew 6:9-15 (NIV)
Josh (aka "Jam Master J") led an examination of these ideas in light of the Parable of the Unmerciful Servant that Jesus told in Matthew 18:
“Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold was brought to him. Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt. At this the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go. But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded. His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’ But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened. Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed. This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”
Taken together, these passages inspired several thoughts for me (Aaron):
1.) Josh pointed out that the first amount (10,000 talents) was the equivalent of 150,ooo years' wages(!) for Jesus' audience. In other words...this was a huge, insurmountable un-payable debt (not unlike ours to God). The second amount (100 denarii), however, constituted only about one day's wages. In other words...this was a petty, eminently forgivable debt (not unlike ours to each other).
2.) My Papa Els often says, "you can't out-give God." I think this passage also illustrates that it's impossible to out-forgive God, too! God forgives us of so MUCH...how can we fail to forgive each other of so LITTLE?
3.) When you think about it, this is kind of an intensely scary way to pray. If we're going to ask God to "forgive us as we forgive" others -and Jesus indicates that we are- well, we want to be really, REALLY good at forgiving others!