25 “And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. 26 But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.” (Mark 11:25–26, NKJV)
What are we to do when someone sins against us? The temptation is to become resentful, bitter, enraged, even vengeful when someone hurts and harms us. Yet, that is not at all what Jesus taught (Matt. 5:21-26). If we have a complaint against anyone, we are to forgive them. Otherwise, our heavenly Father will not hear and answer our prayer for forgiveness of our sins. To forgive means to send away, to leave, forsake. Forgiveness means the offense does not factor into our actions toward the offender; We do not hold the sin against them. Forgiveness expresses kindness and compassion instead of anger and bitterness; The way God in Christ forgives us (Eph. 4:31-32). There is no better example of the heart of forgiveness than when Jesus was crucified unjustly. Hanging on the cross, He said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do” (Luke 23:34). Yes, these sinners’ personal forgiveness only came when they believed and obeyed Jesus (Acts 2:36-41). But we are called to have a heart of forgiveness like Jesus, whether those who sin against us ever repent (Col. 3:12-13). Our place is not to hand out vengeance against the evildoer; We leave that to God and overcome evil with good (Rom. 12:17-21). Forgiving others is the measuring stick of being forgiven by God (Matt. 6:12, 14-15; 7:2). Forgiveness is an act of faith by which we trust God will also forgive us.