Jesus prayed: forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. In the novel “The Great Hunger,” a newcomer comes to a farm community. He refuses all friendship with his neighbors and puts out the no trespassing sign. One day a little child from the town climbs underneath his fence to pet his dog. The vicious animal leaps on her and kills her.
Hostility spreads throughout the community. When the newcomer comes to town no one will speak to him. Clerks refuse to wait on him. Spring comes and the merchants refuse to sell him seed. Finally, the father of the girl who was killed comes over and sows his field. This act of kindness is too much for the insufferable newcomer. “Why-you of all people?” he asks. The father responds: To keep God alive in my heart.
The experience of forgiveness is basic to our spiritual health. It is the way that we keep God alive in our hearts. But there is more. The petition says: Forgive us as we forgive others. In other words, we are asking God to forgive in proportion to our forgiving. We become our own judge and jury.
How do we forgive the unforgivable? By remembering that God forgives us for our sins against him.