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For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.  Matthew 6:14-15   (NIV)

(NT:1063) gar Truly therefore, verily as the case stands, for

It adduces the cause or gives the reason of a preceding statement or opinion
(from Thayer's Greek Lexicon, Electronic Database. Copyright © 2000, 2003, 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc.)

So what was Jesus referring to when He began with "For?"
He had just given the disciples the blueprint for prayer:
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.
Forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.'
Matthew 6:9-13 (NIV)
He chooses that one phrase in what we call "The Lord's Prayer" to focus on.
(NT:575) aphiemi  Forgive, forsake, lay aside
According to the Holman Bible Dictionary, it is an act of God's grace to forget forever.

What are we to forgive?
(NT:3900) paraptoma An unintentional error or willful transgression or sin

He shows cause and effect:

IF you forgive men when they sin against you your heavenly Father will also forgive you


IF you do not forgive men their sins your Father will not forgive your sins

Jesus enlarged on this concept in Matthew 18:21-35 with the parable of the Unforgiving Servant.
The 1st servant was forgiven 10,000 talents.
In Roman times one talent equaled 6,000 denarii, a denarius being roughly a day's wages for a common laborer. If a day's wages today is in the neighborhood of $50, 10,000 talents would be $3 billion! In the Tanakh a talent weighs 75.6 avoirdupois pounds. This amount of gold, at $350/troy ounce, is worth nearly $4 billion; the same amount of silver, at $4/troy ounce, comes to over $40 million.
(from Jewish New Testament Commentary Copyright © 1992 by David H. Stern.)
The 2nd servant owed the 1st servant 100 denarii, which the 1st servant refused to forgive.
Literally, ďa hundred denarii,Ē about $5,000 today. A relatively small sum in relation to the amount he was forgiven.
The result:
Because the 1st servant refused to forgive he was thrown into jail and tortured until his full debt was paid, which would be well beyond his natural lifetime.
Jesus then brings the lesson home in verse 35
"This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart."

Excerpt from Bishop Chrysostom AD 400
Seest thou surpassing mercy? After taking away so great evils, and after the unspeakable greatness of His gift, if men sin again, He counts them such as may be forgiven. For that this prayer belongs to believers, is taught us both by the laws of the church, and by the beginning of the prayer. For the uninitiated could not call God Father. If then the prayer belongs to believers, and they pray, entreating that sins may be forgiven them, it is clear that not even after the prayer is the profit of repentance taken away. Since, had He not meant to signify this, He would not have made a law that we should so pray.
Now He who both brings sins to remembrance, and bids us ask forgiveness, and teaches how we may obtain remission and so makes the way easy; it is perfectly clear that He introduced this rule of supplication, as knowing, and signifying, that it is possible even after the font to wash ourselves from our offenses; by reminding us of our sins, persuading us to be modest; by the command to forgive others, setting us free from all revengeful passion; while by promising in return for this to pardon us also, He holds out good hopes, and instructs us to have high views concerning the unspeakable mercy of God toward man.
But what we should most observe is this, that whereas in each of the clauses He had made mention of the whole of virtue, and in this way had included also the forgetfulness of injuries (for so, that "His name be hallowed," is the exactness of a perfect conversation; and that "His will be done," declares the same thing again: and to be able to call God "Father," is the profession of a blameless life; in all which things had been comprehended also the duty of remitting our anger against them that have transgressed): still He was not satisfied with these, but meaning to signify how earnest He is in the matter, He sets it down also in particular, and after the prayer, He makes mention of no other commandment than this, saying thus:

"For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father also will forgive you."

So that the beginning is of us, and we ourselves have control over the judgment that is to be passed upon us. For in order that no one, even of the senseless, might have any complaint to make, either great or small, when brought to judgment; on thee, who art to give account, He causes the sentence to depend; and "in what way so ever thou hast judged for thyself, in the same," saith He, "do I also judge thee." And if thou forgive thy fellow servant, thou shalt obtain the same favor from me; though indeed the one be not equal to the other. For thou forgives in thy need, but God, having need of none: thou, thy fellow slave; God, His slave: thou liable to unnumbered charges; God, being without sin. But yet even thus doth He show forth His lovingkindness towards man.
Since He might indeed, even without this, forgive thee all thine offenses; but He wills thee hereby also to receive a benefit; affording thee on all sides innumerable occasions of gentleness and love to man, casting out what is brutish in thee, and quenching wrath, and in all ways cementing thee to him who is thine own member. For what canst thou have to say? that thou hast wrongfully endured some ill of thy neighbor? (For these only are trespasses, since if it be done with justice, the act is not a trespass.) But thou too art drawing near to receive forgiveness for such things, and for much greater. And even before the forgiveness, thou hast received no small gift, in being taught to have a human soul, and in being trained to all gentleness. And herewith a great reward shall also be laid up for thee elsewhere, even to be called to account for none of thine offenses.
What sort of punishment then do we not deserve, when after having received the privilege, we betray our salvation? And how shall we claim to be heard in the rest of our matters, if we will not, in those which depend on us, spare our own selves?
(From Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Series 1, Volume 10, PC Study Bible formatted electronic database Copyright © 2003, 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc.)

Jesus through His life taught us to forgive others, and if we are to be like Him then we need to practice forgiveness throughout our life.
1. Matthew 5:22-24
[Donít be angry with your brother without a cause or you could face the judgment and maybe even Hell fire.]
2. Matthew 18:15-17
[There is a proper way to resolve a dispute between your brother and yourself.]
3. Matthew 18:21-22
[Jesus gives the figure of 70 times meaning forgiving continually and holding no ill will.]
4. Matthew 18:23-35
[Jesus give us an example of forgiveness or of not forgiving, with the warning "So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if you from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses."]

Two great examples of forgiveness:
Jesus On the cross He forgave those who crucified Him:
"Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing."  Luke 23:34 (NIV)
Stephen When he was being stoned He forgave those who stoned him:
"Lord, do not hold this sin against them."  Acts 7:60 (NIV)

We may say, "But I am not Jesus, so I can't forgive like He does." However, that Spirit that filled Jesus when He forgave, and that same Spirit that filled Stephen when he forgave can fill us and give us the power to choose forgiveness. With the Spirit of Christ, we can do anything (I can do everything through Him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13 (NIV))

If  our choice is to keep hate in our hearts because of some injustice that we have experienced, remember that this hate is a poison that could indeed keep us from entering into heaven, where there is nothing impure.

(See also "What Is Sin")




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