The teachings of Jesus make it crystal clear that if we expect to be forgiven by God, we must first freely offer forgiveness to others, and to do so continually.
Forgiveness is given by God freely when we ask for it, but we must in turn give forgiveness freely to others, not out of mere “gratitude” or as an optional, grudging act (and when we feel like it) but willingly, and with a contrite heart. This is a condition of our forgiveness by God.
“For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (Matt. 6:14-15)
Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, says Jesus (Luke 12:48) and this surely applies to forgiveness. In the Proverbs, whoever offers water to others is given water (Prov. 11:25.)
When the Scribes told Jesus that only God can forgive sins (Mark 2:7) Jesus corrected them, and by example, taught that all men should forgive others’ sins and trespasses.
In the parable of the Unforgiving Servant, the King (God) calls out the wicked servant, saying, “I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?” (Matt. 18:32-33.)
When Peter asks how many times we must forgive others, Jesus replies, “Seventy times seven” times. In other words, continually and without end.
We know that we must, on our journey of Faith, always seek God's forgiveness for our faults and failures as we strive towards this perfect expression of Righteousness God's Anointed Son, Jesus, has modeled for us. Not only, then, must we seek God’s forgiveness, we are required as a condition of receiving that forgiveness the granting of others forgiveness when they offend us.
Forgiveness, therefore, is the core of our faith in God, and its foundation. It’s an active responsibility of all who serve God through Jesus to conform our lives to a spirit of forgiveness.
When we forgive others, it allows us to grow in communion not only with them, but with God, the Father and Creator of us all.
All of this usually comes as a great shock to those who believe they need “do” nothing to achieve communion with God eternally, but they have been greatly misled. To repent of our sins and seek God’s forgiveness is to promise to forgive others and love them just as we ourselves would wish to be loved.
If Jesus can, in his dying breath, forgive those who murdered him (Luke 23:34) we can forgive those who offend us with their gossip and other petty offenses. Our God, revealed to us by Jesus, is a God of high expectations, and believes that we are able to meet and exceed them (John 14:12.) Let us forgive others in the same spirit of forgiveness offered to us by our Eternal Father.