“Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.” (Luke 11:4 NIV )
No one is without sin. At least, no one whom we are likely to meet on this earth. The state of sinfulness is the great equalizer. And it is comforting to know that no matter how great and powerful someone is, they are before God a sinner. Equally comforting to know is that we have within each of us an ability that is greater than any other possession or influence. We have the power to forgive those who have wronged us.
But this weakness and this ability go hand in hand. While we have the power to forgive someone if they have wronged us, others have the power to forgive us when we have wronged them. And we will, at some point or another in some way or another sin against the people we know. And sometimes against the people we do not know.
And each time we sin against one another, we sin against God. It would be a toss up to say which is worse; to sin against God or to sin against one another. That is why it is interesting, and important, that this verse from Luke continues both proviso. Mutual and reciprocal forgiveness.
When we consider the issue of peace and shalom, we can not say there would be complete peace if there was no need for forgiveness. A sinless world will not happen in this lifetime. And, with forgiveness being mutual and unconditional, the chances for peace is greater. When humanity forgives each other in the face of sinning, the acts of regret, atonement, forgiveness, and restitution bring about peace. Sincere forgiveness mends broken relationships, and mutual forgiveness creates and seals a pact between the two former antagonists. Each time we forgive each other, we participate in a divine act, initiated and empowered by God. And with God’s blessing of divine and perfect forgiveness, peace stands a better chance of being firm and unbroken. Sometimes we need God’s inspiration of love, mercy and compassion to complete the act of forgiveness. This is one of the ways that God creates peace, and gives us a way to keep peace.
May the fruit of forgiveness, and the peace that springs from it, be yours. Selah!