Forgive us what we owe to you, as we have also forgiven those who owe anything to us. (JBP)
Is Jesus suggesting we can only be forgiven by him if we have sorted out our forgiving others? Is his forgiveness conditional on our forgiving? It might seem that way, but it would fly in the face of the whole concept of grace.
Forgiveness is always in the form of an offer: we need to recognise our need of it and accept it for it to have practical effect. Jesus offers forgiveness to all, not waiting for them to become worthy, not even waiting for them to forgive all who have offended them.
So what is he saying? Our steadfast refusal to consider forgiving others reveals our pride, our blindness to our own failings. Such pride and such blindness causes us to turn our backs on God’s offer of forgiveness. Those who constantly and wilfully refuse to forgive others show they have no grasp of grace, and thus no idea of God’s offer of forgiveness.
Though we need to add that forgiving others can be a painful process: it is rarely an instant or easy event. As long as we are making the effort or even just aware of having to make the effort we are open to the offer of grace from God.
In other words, forgiven people are forgiving people.