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)
Forgiveness Comes From Forgiving
God is a just God and requires justice from those who seek Him and ask for blessings from Him. The gods of men are without compassion or concern for others. Justice in the eyes of God begins with the heart of the petitioner. A man comes to God seeking mercy, grace and love and yet holds hatred, malice, and an unforgiving spirit toward his fellow man. There is a contradiction in this appeal. Forgiveness is an eternal gift given by a God who is so full of mercy He gave His only begotten Son to die for the miserable character of humanity. The death of Jesus was the most horrible death imagined by the cruelty of the world. A man who never committed sin was brutally murdered by religious thugs that hated Him because of envy. The Jews rejected one of their own and the Romans executed the Son of God on a cross. Jesus uttered His love for all humanity as He hung on the cross when He asked His Father to forgive those who were killing Him. And a man dares to come before that same Father asking for something he is unwilling to give another?
Forgiveness comes from a forgiving heart. It is easy to ask God for forgiveness but much harder to forgive another. This contradiction is not acceptable to the Father. There is no way around the requirement of God’s love demanding a pure heart to come before Him. When a man is praying, he must first forgive anyone he holds a grudge against so that God will forgive him also. One goes with the other. God forgives when the heart of the one praying has forgiven the one who has wronged him. And there are no exceptions, allowances, loopholes, or arguments that can be made to dissuade the mind of God from accepting the prayers of unforgiving men.
Jesus emphatically says that His Father will not (under any circumstances) forgive a man unwilling to forgive another. Prayers offered with grudges dangling from them will die in transition. God will not hear but judge the man guilty. Forgiveness is more than removing sin. It teaches the heart how to live with those who share the same burden of sin. If there is strife between two men, there is a reason. The unwillingness to forgive another shows a heart that has not learned the true meaning of God’s grace. What man has ever deserved forgiveness? Who among all men can boast they deserve forgiveness from God? How many times in a man’s life will he sin against God and the Lord forgive … and this same man refuses to forgive someone who may have offended him or slighted him in some small way? What is the comparison?
Jesus told a parable in His early ministry of a man who owed his lord millions of dollars and because of the love of the master, the debt was forgiven. This same man found a man who owed him a few dollars demanding restitution with anger and hatred. Jesus illustrated the volume of forgiveness every man receives from the Father compared to the pitiful amount of forgiveness from another and the hypocrisy of such unforgiveness. Jesus is clear: if there is no forgiveness in the man’s heart for his brother, he will receive no forgiveness from the Father. Forgive another before asking God to forgive you. Then, and only then, will God remove your sin. Forgiveness is found in two prayers. The first prayer involves my brother and the second prayer petitions my God.