“If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.” (Matthew 6:14–15 NLT)
This is among Jesus’s hardest teachings. We are so prone to thinking of God as the epitome of love and forgiveness that we often forget being God means he is also the perfect example of judgement, justice, and holiness. In fact, his holiness is so important to our understanding of who God is that when Isaiah saw a vision of God on his throne in the Temple, two seraphim were also present and “they were calling out to each other, ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Heaven’s Armies! The whole earth is filled with his glory!’” (Isaiah 6:3).
Unlike modern English, which has any number of methods to provide emphasis – italics, underlining, and exclamation marks, among others – biblical Hebrew does not use punctuation, so one of the chief methods of emphasizing specific swords or ideas is repetition. That the seraphim repeat the word holy three times indicates that it’s incredibly important in this context. There is no other characteristic so emphatically attributed to God.
Because God is holy, the only way we can be in fellowship with him is through the cross of Jesus. Our salvation comes through the Spirit who makes us holy (2 Thessalonians 2:13). So let us live out our holiness in the Spirit through forgiving those who have wronged us.