14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
This is a difficult statement of Jesus. Does it mean that my forgiveness depends on how well I can forgive?
This whole line of thinking is given more detailed treatment by Jesus in a parable recorded in Matthew 18:23 – 35. The general thrust of the parable is that a man is forgiven a huge debt and then shows no mercy to another who owes him a small amount. He is condemned by all for this. The point is that it is unthinkable that any who have had their sins forgiven by the Lord should have any other attitude than that of prompt mercy to others.
When we seek and receive mercy from the Lord, our request is that he deal with us not according to our sinfulness but according to his grace based in the merits of Christ. We move out of the realm of personal merit, and entitlement to the Kingdom of God where God’s lovingkindness reigns. Under that reign of Jesus, it is unthinkable that we should revert to any attitude where mercy is not supreme. Therefore, the one not showing mercy gives every indication of never accepting it. Hence, this strong statement of Jesus.
This does not mean it is easy for us to show mercy. We are, however, driven to it when we consider all that Christ has done for us.