Jesus knew we need to pray regularly for our trespasses to be forgiven, and he knew we regularly have to forgive the trespasses of others. According to Jesus, forgiveness and forgiving are two sides of the same coin, and you can’t spend one without the other.
Only people who can ask for forgiveness are really able to offer forgiveness. This may be the most challenging part: our capacity for forgiving is determined by the depths of our awareness of our own need for forgiveness. Our ability to be humble, honest, open, and real in prayer determines the depth to which we can know God’s mercy, grace, and forgiveness. We determine the measuring cup.
Oh, we don’t have the power to control God’s generosity; that is boundless. We are, however, the ones who determine the capacity of our own receptivity. How much mercy and grace we can receive is determined by how much we think we need!
The funny thing is how much we think we need forgiveness and grace is almost exactly how much we are able to offer grace and forgiveness. This is the root of something that I’ve learned the hard way about this topic: Hurting people hurt people. Remembering this helps me forgive those who trespass against me. It also sounds a warning bell when I am in pain because those are the times I am most in danger of saying or doing things that trespass against others.
Hurting people hurt people … not mean people.
Hurting people hurt people … not evil people.
I wonder how different our lives would be if, when someone hurts us, we had sufficient grace to ask, “I wonder who hurt them?” or “I wonder what pain they are suffering that would make them act that way?” The trouble is we, too, have many unresolved hurts, and we tend to respond from those wounded places rather than places of grace and forgiveness.
This is a matter of prayer because God is trying to change that reality in our souls. You see, healed people heal people. Forgiven people forgive people. Loved people love people.
Which are you: a debtor or a trespasser? Perhaps the more important question is which are you: a hurter or a healer? A strong person says, “I’m sorry.” A stronger person says, “I forgive you.” The strongest person says, “Will you forgive me? I forgive you, and, now, let’s change the direction of our lives so we don’t trespass on each other anymore and can live debt-free.”
Rev. Michael Piazza