“For if you forgive other people when they sin against you ..." (Matt. 6:14-15)

“For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins." (Matt. 6:14-15)

Do people 'sin against' us?

The original Greek does not actually say "sin against you." Rather, the original Greek simply uses the word παράπτωμα (paraptōma) - which means, according to the lexicon, "to fall beside or near something" and "a lapse or deviation from truth and uprightness." 

This could also be translated to "trespasses or even "offends" - but not "sins against you."

This is consistent with the King James and New King James versions. The New King James Version states:
“For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you."
This is a broader translation than simply forgiving people for their sins against us. It is certainly inclusive, however. To forgive people of any trespasses or offenses includes those against us.

In other words, Jesus is instructing his followers to forgive others of their trespasses or offenses against anyone - including God. It is not just about forgiving others for what they may have done to us.

Will God forgive us?

God unconditionally loves each of us, and perpetually forgives each of us due to that love. There is no need to earn His forgiveness - it is not as if we pay for the privilege of His forgiveness.

Rather, Jesus is indicating that it is an automatic process of reception. We won't be able to receive His forgiveness unless we are also forgiving others.

True forgiveness requires love and compassion. In order to receive love and compassion, we must be a receptacle for it. We have the consciousness to be able to receive it.

For example, let's say that we see a stray animal that is hurt and we want to help the animal. Will we be able to help the animal if it hides and won't let us catch it? Certainly not. We can only help the animal if it trusts us enough to get close enough to help it.

In the same way, by forgiving others for their offenses - against ourselves or otherwise - we can become a receptacle for the forgiveness of the Supreme Being. We come into the realm of love - enabling us to receive his forgiveness.

How can we embrace forgiveness?

Jesus is suggesting that we embrace forgiveness - applying it liberally to others - in order for the Supreme Being's forgiveness will embrace us.

This quality of reciprocation also works with love. Consider this statement of Jesus:
" 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'" (Matt. 22:37-39)
The reason 'Love your neighbor as yourself' is "like it" with respect to " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.'" is that without loving God we won't have the ability to truly love others.

These are linked. We won't be able to love the Supreme Being without also loving His children. And we won't be able to truly love His children without loving Him.

It would be like having a loving relationship with a woman and yet hating the woman's infant baby. Or loving the baby and hating the woman. How could we hate the baby and love the woman? It is not possible, because the baby is connected to the woman. They are intimately connected.

In the same way, we are each intimately connected with the Supreme Being. It is not as if there is us and then there is God - like we are two opposing forces. The Supreme Being is our Creator and everlasting well-wisher. We are His eternally (whether we appreciate this or not). 

Thus to pretend to love God without loving His children would be a contradiction in itself.