“But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”—Matthew 6:15
When one turns away from human imperfections to behold Jesus, a divine transformation takes place in the character. The Spirit of Christ working upon the heart conforms it to His image. Then let it be your effort to lift up Jesus. Let the mind’s eye be directed to “the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). And as you engage in this work, remember that “he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way, shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins” (James 5:20).
“But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6:15). Nothing can justify an unforgiving spirit. He who is unmerciful toward others shows that he himself is not a partaker of God’s pardoning grace. In God’s forgiveness the heart of the erring one is drawn close to the great heart of Infinite Love. The tide of divine compassion flows into the sinner’s soul, and from him to the souls of others. The tenderness and mercy that Christ has revealed in His own precious life will be seen in those who become sharers of His grace. But “if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His” (Romans 8:9). He is alienated from God, fitted only for eternal separation from Him.
It is true that he may once have received forgiveness; but his unmerciful spirit shows that he now rejects God’s pardoning love. He has separated himself from God, and is in the same condition as before he was forgiven. He has denied his repentance, and his sins are upon him as if he had not repented.
But the great lesson of the parable lies in the contrast between God’s compassion and man’s hardheartedness; in the fact that God’s forgiving mercy is to be the measure of our own….
We are not forgiven because we forgive, but as we forgive. The ground of all forgiveness is found in the unmerited love of God, but by our attitude toward others we show whether we have made that love our own.—Christ’s Object Lessons, 250, 251.
Further Reflection: Do I tend to grade sins, seeing some as worse than others? How does this tendency affect my ability to forgive sins of which I may not be guilty?