Here Jesus says that one of the things we should double check when we gather for formal worship is whether we have forgiven those who have wronged us. We are about to ask God to forgive us, and Jesus teaches us that we ought to be practicing the kind of forgiveness we want from God. How do you want God to forgive you?
Do you have grievances against anyone? Do you have any grudges? Have you been truly wronged? Is there anyone past or present that you resent? Did they say or do something to you that still stings? That still eats at you? That you still carry around with you, that weighs on you?
In another place, Jesus says that if you come to worship and remember that a brother has something against you, leave your gift at the altar and go be reconciled to your brother before offering your worship. And you may need to do that now. Maybe you need to lean over to your wife or husband or daughter and seek their forgiveness and be reconciled. Maybe you need to walk across the room to someone you wronged in a business deal and make it right. Go ahead and do that.
But in this verse, Jesus says that when you come to worship, you may have something against someone else, they may have done something to you. And here Jesus simply says forgive them. Obviously, in order to be fully reconciled, they need to agree that a wrong has occurred and ask your forgiveness, and sometimes that isn’t the case. But Jesus still says to forgive. Forgiveness is the promise that you will not hold someone’s sin against them. If they haven’t asked for it, you can’t extend the forgiveness, but you can set your heart in order. You cannot make the other person want forgiveness or ask forgiveness, but you can get your forgiveness all ready. You can have forgiveness baking in your oven for when they arrive. You can have forgiveness laid up in your wine cellar and ready to open if they come. You can have forgiveness prepared like that Father in the parable who was looking down the road for his lost son.
So if you have anything against anyone, forgive.