The Lord’s Prayer
And forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who is a debtor to us. —Luke 11:4
Forgive men their trespasses.
Matthew 6:14-15. For if you forgive1 men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
AC 1594:3. Self-love... conceals within itself hatred of all who do not submit themselves to it as its slaves. And because it conceals hatred, it also conceals forms of revenge, cruelty, deceit, and further unspeakable things.
AC 1594:3-4. Mutual love, however, which alone is heavenly, consists in not only saying but also acknowledging and believing that one is utterly undeserving, and something worthless and filthy, which the Lord in His infinite mercy is constantly drawing away and holding back from the hell into which the person constantly tries, and indeed longs, to cast himself. He acknowledges and believes this because it is the truth. Not that the Lord or any angel wishes him to acknowledge and believe it just to gain his submission, but to prevent his boasting about himself when he is in fact such. This would be like excrement calling itself pure gold, or a dung-fly a bird of paradise.
To the extent therefore that a person acknowledges and believes that he really is what he in fact is, he departs from self-love and its desires, and loathes himself. To the extent that this happens he receives from the Lord heavenly love, that is, mutual love, which is willing to serve all. These are the people meant by the least who become the greatest in the Lord’s kingdom, Matt. 20:26-28; Luke 9:46-48.
Matthew 20:26-28. But it shall not be so among you; but whoever wills to become great among you, let him be your minister; and whoever wills to be first among you, let him be your servant, as the Son of Man came not to be ministered to, but to minister, and to give His soul a ransom for many.
AC 1079. ...People with whom faith is separated from charity... see nothing else but the errors and perversities with a man. But those who are in the faith of charity are different. They notice the goods, and if they do see evils and falsities they excuse them, and if possible endeavor with that person to correct them, as is said here of Shem and Japheth....
AC 1079:2e. But those who have charity hardly notice the evil in another person, but instead notice all the goods and truths that are his; and on his evils and falsities they place a good interpretation. Of such a nature are all angels, it being something they have from the Lord, who bends everything evil into good.
AC 10381. ...When [a certain spirit] found fault with me, I was allowed to say that what he found fault with did not belong to me but to the spirits around me, because what I was thinking did not begin in myself but in these spirits, who were influencing my thinking. He was astonished at this but nevertheless perceived that it was so. I was allowed to go on and say that to search out what is bad in a person is not an angelic thing to do unless at the same time one looked for what is good.
Matthew 5:23-24. If therefore thou offer thy gift on the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother has anything against thee, leave there thy gift in front of the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come offer thy gift.
1Wherever the New Testament speaks of “forgiving” or “forgiveness,” more literally it is speaking of “remission,” that is, sending back or sending away.
Questions and Comments
- In Matthew 6:14-15, right after the Lord’s Prayer, why is the teaching about forgiveness the only part of the Prayer that is repeated and emphasized?
- Can we acknowledge and believe that we are utterly undeserving, worthless and filthy? Can we acknowledge this while still carrying on “our” daily responsibilities and uses?
- How can we distinguish a healthy, true kind of self-loathing from an unhealthy, false kind?
- Can we have contempt for others if we have genuine self-loathing from a clear understanding of our own nature? What happens if instead of self-loathing we get into boasting and self-promotion?
- Can it be useful and charitable to search out what is bad in the neighbor as long as we also look for what is good?