“As we forgive those who sin against us” – that is part of our daily prayers as a Christian; we call for mercy only in the same breath as we forgive others. Forgiveness can be such a struggle. Often, it is beyond me and I need help. As I endure malice from others, often malice forms inside me in reaction. Poison. Where does help come from? How can I love better and think better?
My pastor taught me to look at the Lord’s Prayer as the prayer I would pray wholeheartedly if my soul were what it should be, grown fully to the image of God in Christ. So I turn to it for help. The other petitions show me how I can forgive. That is not to say that is their purpose; but it is to say that they give me more strength and wisdom than is my own and show me more of God's mind than I yet possess.
How can I forgive? I can't do it for myself but I can do it for our Father. I does not serve my honor but the honor of God’s name. Forgiving does not establish myself as above over the other, but it does work for the coming of His kingdom, for His will on earth, not just in heaven. I have to remember that I am a sinner too. It removing the temptation to bitterness and hatred, and delivers us both from the Evil One.
And if that only quiets my self-righteousness some – because my unforgivingness is too often only self-righteousness – then I try again.
Some people would see forgiveness as wrong, as pretending sin is right. It is not that; that confuses “forgiving” and “excusing” – if it were right, it would not need forgiving. Forgiveness only applies to what is truly wrong, make no mistake. But I want to let God alone have credit as the righteous one and the holy one. I want to keep myself far from taking advantage of someone else’s failings to claim superiority over them.
Then I can really pray, "Lord have mercy on me, a sinner."