by Mike Glenn
Good morning everyone. Forgive to be forgiven. The new memory verse this week is Matthew 6:12. Our text this morning is Mark 11:23-26. It is really a text about the strength of our faith in prayer, but Jesus connects answered prayer to forgiving. Mk. 11:24: “Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them. 25: 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. 26: But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses.”
Most of us do not stand as we pray, but that was a common position for praying in the first century. I hope that you do find yourself in the position of praying often. So, imagine for a moment that you are in the midst of prayer and in your mind you are running through the things and people for whom you want to pray (it is not a bad idea to make a written list). As you do this you remember a person who has offended you. They lied about you. They abused you verbally. They stole from you. They cheated you in some way. They hurt a friend or child of yours. Whether real or imagined (it does not matter), you believe you have been sinned against. Jesus says that you should immediately forgive in order that your prayer may be answered.
Christianity is always about relationship. Jesus died to make us one (Eph. 2:15-16). We are not just one because we hold membership in the same organization. Rather we are one because we are in the same family. We are brother and sister. Any rift between us emotionally is a spiritual division. Even in Mt. 5:23-24, Jesus taught that, before we could worship (prayer is part of that), we must be reconciled to our brother. Just so, in our own minds, we must reconcile by forgiving the brother or sister who has hurt us. We cannot pray while our heart us separates from someone in the family. This is another of several biblical passages that shows us that our forgiving is not based on another’s repentance. Is this not one part of the aspects of the statement “Love covers a multitude of sins’ (1 Pet. 4:8). This in no way changes the fact that we will continue to make an effort to get every person to repent of his or her sins to God. God is the judge who is perfect in justice and mercy.