TEXT: Mark 11:25-26: “And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses.”
Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Forgiveness is not an occasional act, it is a constant attitude.”
C.S. Lewis said, “To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable, because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.”
George Herbert said, “He who cannot forgive others destroys the bridge over which he himself must pass.”
Joan Lunden said, “Holding on to anger, resentment and hurt only gives you tense muscles, a headache and a sore jaw from clenching your teeth. Forgiveness gives you back the laughter and the lightness in your life.”
Joyce Meyer said, “Forgiveness is not a feeling – it’s a decision we make because we want to do what’s right before God. It’s a quality decision that won’t be easy and it may take time to get through the process, depending on the severity of the offense.”
Corrie Ten Boom said, “Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart.”
Previously, we talked about the importance of forgiveness as it pertains to our prayer life. If we wish to be forgiven by God, Jesus tells us that we must forgive those who have wronged us. In fact, God’s forgiveness of us hinges on our forgiveness of others. Of course, it is not easy to forgive. It is human nature to hold grudges and to try to make the other person pay for what they have done. However, Jesus commands us to forgive others when we pray.
This forgiveness, however, does not just occur in our prayer closets. We must live out this forgiveness in our everyday lives. We must act toward those who have wronged us as though we have truly forgiven them. It is the same way that God acts toward us. Even though we are sinners deserving of eternal punishment, if we have accepted salvation through Jesus Christ, God considers us saints worthy of Heaven.
How then are we to forgive? We are not only to forgive BECAUSE God forgave us, but we are to forgive JUST AS God forgave us. In light of Jesus’ command to forgive others, let’s look at the word of God and see what this means.
1. We ought to be willing to suffer the consequences of the wrong done to us.
That is what Jesus did. First Peter 2:24 says that Christ “bare our sins in his own body on the tree.” He suffered our wrong; we ought to be willing to suffer the wrongs done us by others. As Paul was rebuking the Corinthian believers for their habit of dragging each other to court to settle disputes, he said, “Why do ye not rather take wrong? why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded?”
Now, this does not mean remaining in a situation that allows someone to harm you. If someone breaks into your house to steal from you, you can forgive that person but still get a security system that will prevent another break in. What the Bible teaches is that we ought not to seek revenge or payback for the wrongs done to us. In other words, you ought not to try to go and steal from those who have stolen from you. However, there is nothing wrong with putting yourself in a position that prevents you from being wronged a second time.
2. We ought to see the person who wronged us as cleansed of their sin.
That is what God does when he forgives us. First John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” You cannot forgive someone and continue to have an unchristian attitude toward them every time you see them. By the power of the Holy Spirit, you must act toward them as though they had not even sinned against you.
Whether you are a Christian or not, you cannot live a healthy life if you hold on to hatred, resentment, and bitterness toward others. Nelson Mandela said, “Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.” As long as you cling to negative thoughts, feelings, and attitudes toward those who have wronged you, you will only be hurting yourself.
3. We ought to forget what the person who wronged us has done.
I know that this is a hard pill to swallow, but when God forgives, He forgets. Psalm 103:12 says, “As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.” Micah 7:19 says, “He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.” In God’s eyes, sins that we have confessed and repented of are no longer associated with us. They are removed. They are plunged beneath the ocean waves of the blood of Jesus never to be seen again.
You may think it is hard to forget how someone has wronged you, but by the power of the Holy Spirit, it can be done. So many people remain trapped by what someone has done to them in the past that they cannot move forward with their life today. But God can help you to live your life without you allowing your present thoughts, words, and deeds to be affected by the harm done to you by others. Someone once said, ‘We have to forgive people. We don’t have to like them, we don’t have to be friends with them, we don’t have to send them hearts in text messages, but we have to forgive them, to overlook what they have done, to forget. Because if we don’t, we are tying rocks to our feet…’ Holding on to the memories of how others have wronged you — allowing them to fester like an open wound in your heart — will only take you down. So forgive…and forget.
4. We ought to continue forgiving.
There may be a person in your life who continues to do wrong against you. What do you do? You keep on forgiving. In Matthew 18, Peter asked Jesus about this very issue. He said, “Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?” Peter was hoping for an easy way out; he wanted Jesus to put a lid on how often he had to forgive someone. But, “Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.” If we want God to continue forgiving us, we must continue forgiving others.
This continuous heart of forgiveness is not the same as trust or confidence. You can forgive someone when they have wronged you immediately. But, you can only trust them once they have built up a track record over time. In fact, some people you may never be able to trust again, but you can still forgive them. Don’t let the forgiving spirit become clouded by matters of trust and relationship that take time to build up. God forgives us, but He still tells us to pray that we enter not into temptation. He still tells us to confess our faults one to another and to pray for one another. He forgives us of our sins, but He still sends trials and adversity our way to test us and see whether or not we will remain faithful to Him. And by the way, God will not fully bless you until you are obedient and faithful.
Forgiving others is a great thing to do, but it is not easy. However, when we pray and ask for forgiveness for ourselves, we ought to be mindful of those whom we have not forgiven. And if we want to receive forgiveness, we must forgive.
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Now, if you are with us today, and you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour, your first prayer needs to be what we call the Sinner’s Prayer. First, please understand that you are a sinner, just as I am, and that you have broken God’s laws. The Bible says in Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”
Second, accept the fact that there is a penalty for sin. The Bible states in Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death…”
Third, accept the fact that you are on the road to hell. Jesus Christ said in Matthew 10:28: “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Also, the Bible states in Revelation 21:8: “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”
Now this is bad news, but here’s the good news. Jesus Christ said in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead by the power of God for you so that you can live eternally with Him. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will.
Romans 10:9 & 13 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved… For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
If you believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead, and you want to trust Him for your salvation today, please pray with me this simple prayer: Holy Father God, I realize that I am a sinner and that I have done some bad things in my life. For Jesus Christ sake, please forgive me of my sins. I now believe with all of my heart that Jesus Christ died for me, was buried, and rose again. Lord Jesus, please come into my heart and save my soul and change my life today. Amen.
If you just trusted Jesus Christ as your Saviour, and you prayed that prayer and meant it from your heart, I declare to you that based upon the Word of God, you are now saved from Hell and you are on your way to Heaven. Welcome to the family of God! Congratulations on trusting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour. You have done the most important thing in life. For more information to help you grow in your newfound faith in Christ, go to Gospel Light Society.com and read “What To Do After You Enter Through the Door”. Jesus Christ said in John 10:9, “I am the door, by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”
God loves you. We love you. And may God bless you.