“Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” (Matthew 6:12)
As the verse from Matthew 6 indicates, forgiveness has to do with being in debt. When someone has treated another person badly or wrongly, this hurts their relationship and brings the wrongdoer into a position of debt to the wronged party. He needs to compensate for the hurt or loss the other person has suffered — for example financially or emotionally.
Forgiving the wrongdoer means to give up any claim to be compensated, to let go of any negative emotions towards this person, and to restore the relationship whenever possible.
Jesus gives a wonderful example of forgiveness in a story about a father and a son. The son has hurt his father deeply by claiming the part of the father’s property that he is supposed to receive someday, leaving for another country and wasting the money there. The father has lost hope to ever see his son again. But when the son ends up in big trouble, he realizes what he has done and returns home. The father does not turn him down, but welcomes him with hugs, kisses and a festive meal (Luke 15:20; 15:22-23). He forgives his son wholeheartedly.
Have you ever been in a position where you needed forgiveness? Did the other person forgive you?