Do I Have to Forgive?
“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 NKJV
We live in a culture where we don’t always mean what we say. Consequently we do not believe others mean what they say to us. A person’s word is not taken seriously.
But when Jesus speaks, He wants us to take Him seriously. When He says something, He means it. He is faithful even when we are faithless.
So when Jesus said, “But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses,” He meant it! I wonder how many of us would want God to forgive us the same way we have forgiven those who have offended us.
When an offense occurs, a debt is owed. So forgiveness is like the cancellation of a debt. Scripture says:
You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins. He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross. Colossians 2:13–14 NLT
The debt we were forgiven was unpayable. There was no way we could ever repay God what we owed Him. So God gave us salvation as a gift.
There is nothing worse than eternity in a lake of fire. That was our destination until God forgave us through the death of His Son, Jesus Christ! If you have a hard time forgiving, remember the reality of hell and the love of God that saved you from it. Should we not forgive others when we have been forgiven in this way?
This may be a hard concept to hear, but I see it as a message of mercy and warning, not of harsh judgment. Would you prefer to be convicted by the Holy Spirit now and experience genuine repentance and forgiveness? Or would you rather refuse to forgive and realize your error when you can no longer repent? Personally, I want conviction and transformation now!
As you spend time in prayer, allow the Holy Spirit to search your heart and bring what lies in shadows out into the open. Who do you need to forgive? Once you’ve identified them, pray:
Holy Spirit, thank you for guiding and correcting me. Thank you for revealing my need to forgive this person. Today, by Your grace, I forgive the offense I have held against them. I release this person from their debt in Jesus’s name, and I ask you to bless them. I choose to extend forgiveness, knowing I have been greatly forgiven. Thank You for Your mercy and love, God. In Jesus’s name, amen.
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