“And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”
Mark 11:25 (NIV)
If you are a Christ follower and are walking in the amazing realization that God has forgiven your sins and given you a new lease on life because Jesus took your place on death row, then God asks you to turn around and extend forgiveness to others. Again and again. As many times as needed. Day after day after day after day. Seventy times seven times, Jesus says (Matthew 18:22 KJV). Not that you stop at the 490th; you keep going, because that’s what God does for us. It’s called living in the grip of grace and extending that grace to others. It’s modeling what God’s done for us so that others can get a glimpse of it and will want it, too. But, of course, this isn’t easy! It involves our emotions and our sense of justice and our “need” to be angry about things…supposedly.
If anyone had a right to be unforgiving, it was Jesus. He was publicly flogged and humiliated, wrongly accused with trumped-up charges, and ultimately received the death penalty for something he didn’t do. He didn’t deserve to die. He was perfect. Yet as he hung dying on the cross, what did he do? He said, Father God, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing (Luke 23:34). Is Jesus, who lives in you, still saying that through you? Are you saying, Father, forgive them!
Father, it is so hard to forgive. I get so angry…feel justified in my anger…feel the need to prove my point. I’m not sure why, really. When I think about all you’ve done for me, how much you’ve forgiven me, I honestly can’t say I have a right to be angry at all. More humbled than anything. Keep that always in front of me so that instead of seeing the thing that makes me angry, I see your grace and mercy and can extend it to others.