Matthew 6:14 says “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.”
Why is forgiveness so important to a Christian?
The easy answer is that God commands it as an action by his followers in order to accept the gift of salvation. Forgiveness of sin is the basis of the Christian faith. Christianity requires it’s faithful to accept that Jesus came for all people and died as penance for man’s sin. Through this action, he was able to take man’s sin on himself and provide forgiveness for all of humanity’s wrongs. God’s forgiveness of sin is a gift that is available to all mankind if they chose to accept it.
Christians are called on to emulate God and be His representation of the world.
Matthew 6:14 provides God’s promise to those that offer forgiveness, but Matthew 6:15 follows with the promise to those that refuse to forgive. “But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” It is required then that forgiveness of others is necessary in order to accept the promise of salvation.
Man’s nature is sinful.
Left to their own devices, people will choose self-interest and personal gain over compassion for others. God has given the example to be followed so that man can know He is just and loving. Psalm 130:4 says, “But with you, there is forgiveness, so that we can, with reverence, serve you.”
Luke 1:76-79 says, “And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him, to give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace.”
If God did not forgive sin, people would be found wanting and abandoned as a result of their very nature. Forgiveness is the basis of Salvation. To accept the gift of salvation is to be forgiven of sin. How could anyone serve a God that couldn’t forgive the nature of man? By living a Christian life you are able to claim God’s forgiveness and His promise, but that is not possible if you are not first able to forgive as God has forgiven you.
Forgiveness is such an inherent part of Christianity that it is addressed directly in Jesus’ teaching of how to pray. The Lord’s Prayer, which is learned by every young Christian, is the example Jesus gave of the correct way to approach God. Matthew 6:12 holds the line in the Lord’s prayer that gives God’s directive. “And forgive us our debts, as we have forgiven our debtors.”
This is your task as Christians. Forgive as God has forgiven you.