January 15, 2020 – Wednesday
Mark 11:25-26 NKJV
25 “And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses.
26 But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.”
I really like the shortened version of verse twenty-five, if you have anything against anyone, forgive them. Short and to the point. Unlike the apostle Paul, Jesus is almost always short and to the point. Like here there can be no confusion when He says anything, anyone that literally means anything and anyone.
This is very much like Matthew 6:14-15 which we discussed earlier, but with key differences. In Matthew Jesus gave these instructions while providing an example of how to pray. Nonetheless, this was presented as an absolute in Matthew:
14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. NIV
In both cases – Matthew and Luke – we run up against a very difficult truth, an unforgiving person cannot be saved. Jesus is clearly saying If someone cannot forgive others, Jesus says, it proves that he has never really experienced the forgiveness of God in his own life. Likewise, if one is really saved, he knows God’s forgiveness and cleansing in such a personal way that he cannot refuse to forgive others for their faults (Edward Hinson and James Borland in ‘The Gospel of Matthew, The King is Coming’). This is so difficult Martin Luther described what an unforgiving person might say instead “O God, I am your debtor, and I also have a debtor; I am not willing to forgive him, therefore don’t forgive me either; I will not obey you even though you would pardon me; I would rather renounce your heaven and everything else, and go to the devil”
What kind of a person would say such a prayer? Clearly someone who had something against someone that caused such hurt and pain they were unwilling to forgive even if it meant going to hell. We have seen such in movies or in books when the ‘hero’ says to the villain, “I will see you in hell!” when he takes his revenge. Note this is not during some time of defending one’s self or loved ones, but given a choice of taking revenge or not, do not! Paul makes this point in Romans 12:19 (quoting from Deuteronomy 32:35) Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.
Initially this was a law for how to live among your people, fellow Israelites, when God gave the following instruction in Leviticus 19:18 Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.
And in Mark we see this expanded to anyone. and not only is there to be no revenge, but we are to forgive them for anything we might hold against them. And if we do not do so then neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.”
As difficult as it may be to entertain forgiving anyone for anything they have done, it is worth considering John Stott’s words once again Once our eyes have been opened to see the enormity of our offence against God, the injuries which others have done to us appear by comparison extremely trifling. If, on the other hand, we have an exaggerated view of the offences of others, it proves that we have minimized our own.
Let us not minimize our own sins or trespasses against God and acknowledge our sins had just as much to do with nailing Jesus to the cross as the sins of anyone we might hold anything against. Instead let us forgive anyone anything and receive God’s wonderful complete and total forgiveness for each and every one of our sins. Let us leave vengeance up to the Lord and be about the business of living our lives seeking His will.
Let us choose eternity in heaven with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.