from WL Worcester (H Blackmer, ed.), 
The Sower.  Helps to the Study of the Bible in Home and Sunday School
(Boston: Massachusetts New-Church Union, n.d.)

Table of Contents


Lesson 26

Topical and Doctrinal Notes

Leading Thought: Forgiveness

Do you suppose that Peter meant his own brother when he asked the Lord how often he should forgive his "brother" if he sinned against him? No. The term "brother" is very often used in the Word to mean every person, and more especially everyone who loves to be good and believes in the Lord, whether he or she be rich or poor, ignorant or learned, a man or woman of influence and honor, or one who is known by very few people. Whoever loves to be honest and just and sincere, obeying the commandments which the Lord has given in His Word, is a brother who is very near to us. Those who are less honest and sincere and righteous are also our brothers, but not so near.

Why is it that goodness makes them our brothers? Because goodness comes from the Lord, and whoever receives it is a child of the Lord, and children of one father are brothers of each other. The more they love the Lord, the nearer are they to Him and therefore the closer are they one to another.

It is very easy to understand, therefore, that as children of God we must forgive our brothers if they do anything wrong or amiss, for although we ourselves are all the time doing things that are not quite right, our heavenly Father is always forgiving us. To be children of our heavenly Father, therefore, we must do as He does - always forgive.

It is seldom that a person sins against us "seventy times seven times," or four hundred and ninety times. But suppose he does? By the time we shall have forgiven him that often, it will have become such a strong habit that we would do it ever after, if he should continue to sin.

This matter of being ready to forgive is very important, as we see where we are taught the Lord's Prayer. (Matthew 6) We pray "Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors." And at the conclusion of the prayer the Lord speaks just as if the whole prayer were nothing else but a petition for forgiveness. Read it and see.

The Lord, then, forgives us when we forgive others. But I thought that He is always forgiving us, that He never feels otherwise than kind and good and forgiving to us. How are we to understand this?

That the Lord forgives us does not mean that we are thereby free from evil and sin. He is "plenteous in mercy and ready to forgive." But we must do things ourselves in order that our sins may really be forgiven. We must ourselves shun the evils which evil spirits prompt us to do. We must fight against the evils which our hearts lead us to commit. Only then can we get rid of those evil spirits, and only then does the Lord's forgiving mercy enter our hearts to make them clean. This is the reason why the Lord teaches us in His prayer that He can only forgive us as we forgive others. One of the strongest evils which our hearts cherish is the evil of dislike and hatred and revenge. We do not like to forgive others. But so long as we feel that way, the Lord's forgiving love is like sunshine that shines and shines upon windows the shutters of which are closed tight and the shades drawn down: the sunshine cannot enter the room. But when we push away the feeling of revenge and hatred and unforgiveness, it is like raising the shades and throwing open the shutters, so that the sunlight can flood the room.

So long as we are not ready to forgive others for being remiss and for doing things wrong, we are like the man of whom the Lord speaks in the book of Revelation, who keeps the door of his house shut tight while the Savior is knocking. But when we throw away these hateful, unbrotherly feelings, then we are like the same man, who opens the door wide, so that the knocking Savior can enter into the house. (Revelation 3:20)

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