“I’ll Forgive You, If …” by Anne Ferrell Tata, CBN, 2017.
…Catherine Marshall in her 1974 book, Something More, wrote a chapter titled “Forgiveness: The Aughts and the Anys.” The Chapter references Matthew 18:18…
The chapter addresses our need as Christians to fulfill Christ’s expectation to forgive, period. Like many of us, Catherine Marshall admits to attaching conditions to her forgiveness. She says, “if the other person saw the error of his ways, was properly sorry, and admitted his guilt, then yes, as a Christian, I was obligated to forgive him.”
She soon discovered Jesus’ words in Mark 11 said something entirely different. Jesus said,
“And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have aught against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.” Mark 11:25 (KJV)
“Any” meant anybody and everybody. Catherine Marshall’s commentary on this truth is fascinating as she unpacks the notion of our prayers being hindered by our un-forgiveness.
She references South African-born minister David du Plessis’ explanation of the Matthew 18 verse. He explains that when we hang on to judgment of another person, we bind that person to the very conditions we want to see changed. By our un-forgiveness, we stand between that person and the Holy Spirit’s work in convicting and ultimately helping him.
Dr. du Plessis says, “By stepping out of the way through releasing somebody from our judgment, we’re not necessarily saying, ‘He’s right and I’m wrong.’ Forgiveness means, ‘He can be as wrong as wrong can be, but I’ll not be the judge.’ Forgiveness means that I’m no longer binding a certain person on earth. It means withholding judgment.”
A Biblical example is from Acts 7 when Stephen was being stoned to death. Saul of Tarsus stood watching, holding the garments of the witnesses. The Bible tells us Stephen’s response to his attack is one of forgiveness,
“Lord, do not charge them with this sin.” Acts 7:60 (HCSV).
Just two chapters later, Saul is on his way to Damascus when he encounters Jesus, and his world is turned upside down. Stephen, by releasing the group from his judgment stepped out of the way, therefore allowing the Holy Spirit to work.
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