Take a step up!
“And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.” Mark 11:25 & 26
Today I want look at verses 25-26 in Mark 11 where Jesus continues His “having an effective faith life” message. So, after He talked about mountain moving faith it looks like He changes the subject to forgiveness, but before He talks about forgiving, He says when you’re “standing” in prayer, don’t forget about forgiving. It looks like prayer and forgiving others are connected. Many times, I have started out praying by confessing and asking forgiveness, but this passage takes it a step further. Jesus said I should examine my heart for unforgiveness first.
In Luke 17:1-5 Jesus’ disciples ask Him how many times they were to forgive someone who offended them. Peter thought he was being super spiritual by saying “seven times?” Jesus’ response was seventy times seven. The disciples were astonished at His answer and said, “LORD, increase our faith!” In other words, they were saying, this is unheard of. We need to hear more about how to do that. So, Jesus unpacks it by talking about the requirement of a servant. He basically says to forgive is an act of obedience and faith that is a minimum requirement for believers.
To this I say . . . “LORD, increase my faith!” Previously, I thought that forgiving others was for me so that I could be internally healed and release the toxic feelings of hurt that were caused by offense. However, after considering this passage, the LORD showed me that forgiveness has nothing to do with my feelings or healing. Rather it is a choice that requires a step of faith to be effective in my prayer life. Like every other faith decisions we make in life, the step of faith leads, then the feelings follow.
Some time ago the LORD showed me an area where I needed to take a step of faith and forgive someone. My response was, “Yes, I forgive them. I just never want to see them or think about them ever again!” That’s when He showed me that forgiveness is an act of love and after I have truly forgiven someone, love should fill my heart. I said, “LORD, increase my faith!” That was not my idea of forgiveness. I thought forgive and forget was a great act of faith. If I was willing to forgive and let it go that should be celebrated. But that’s not what Jesus did. He forgave me and Love flooded His heart for me. I was broken, unclean, and hopeless. Forgiveness to Him meant that He picked me up out of a pit and took me in and made me His very own child. The least I can do is forgive and love all others that He also forgives and loves.
This is way beyond me and my way of thinking. He didn’t take my sin as an offense toward Him but as a cry for help. I needed a Savior to forgive me and cleanse me. In Jesus’ willingness to be obedient to pay the price for my sin and forgive me, He became the vessel that God could reach through to get to me. In the same way, when we truly forgive others instead of taking on the hurt feelings or grudges or even indifference, only then can God reach through us to the person who has done the wrong. That is why the Apostle Paul said in Ephesians 4:32 to “forgive others, in the same way that God in Christ Jesus forgave you.”
So today, when offenses come (and they will) let the love of God fill your heart and recognize it as an opportunity to show compassion. Begin to see hurts and offenses as a cry for help that someone is displaying and allow your act of forgiveness to open the door for God to reach through. Then watch His love for others fills your heart and life to the point that you want to see them all reached! God is working through your step of faith to forgive to get the greatest victory in the situation.
Today’s scripture reading: Mark 11:20-26
20 Now in the morning, as they passed by, they saw the fig tree dried up from the roots.
21 And Peter, remembering, said to Him, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree which You cursed has withered away.”
22 So Jesus answered and said to them, “Have faith in God.
23 For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says.
24 Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.
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.”