At the end of June 2021, we began a series about prayer starting with the followers of Jesus asking to be taught how to pray. (See Teach us to….)

We then turned our attention to Matthew 6:5-13, taking a verse per week of Jesus’ instruction, first on how not to pray, that is then followed with an example of how to pray.

Today we turn our attention to Matthew 6:14 where Jesus elaborates on one of the petitions within the sample prayer we refer to as the Lord’s prayer. (See Matthew 6:12.)

We will learn a surprising principle of the importance of reciprocity applied to forgiveness.

First our verse for today:

ESV  Matthew 6:14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.

The first definition of reciprocity at fits our verse best :

  • the quality or state of being reciprocal : mutual dependence, action, or influence

Digging deeper here is the definition of reciprocal that fits our verse best:

  • shared, felt, or shown by both sides

Going one step further here are two definitions of mutual that apply to our verse:

  • shared in common
  • characterized by intimacy

Review once again the petition that Jesus modeled we pray about forgiveness:

ESV  Matthew 6:12 and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.

With the definitions shared above and Matthew 6:12, take a moment to put into your own words what the importance of reciprocity is in relation to Matthew 6:14.

Jesus taught His followers to pray that the forgiveness of their debts, otherwise known as transgressions, sins, or trespasses, be compared to the way they had forgiven others.

After concluding the sample prayer, Jesus confirms that the Lord to whom one should pray will forgive us as we forgive others.

Questions for Reflection:

  • Why is this importance of reciprocity being highlighted by Jesus?
  • Are you generous with your forgiveness of those who have harmed you?
  • Or is it hard for you to extend forgiveness to someone once they have broken your trust?
  • Is it really forgiveness that is hard to give or resuming a bond of trust?
  • How is trust different or the same as mutuality?
  • Why is it important to pray for forgiveness from our transgressions?
  • Why is our forgiveness from the Lord tied to how we forgive others?

We will delve more deeply into this topic next time as we continue with Matthew 6:15.

A prayer for us:

ESV  Psalm 32:1 A Maskil of David. Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. 2 Blessed is the man against whom the LORD counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit.

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Barbara Lynn

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