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Mark 11:25 (ESV)
25 And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”
Do you ever feel stuck in your faith? Do you ever feel like you aren’t growing in the Lord? Habitual and unrepentant sin can often be the cause of our lack of growth, but looking at today’s verse it seems that withholding forgiveness from others can also be a barrier to maturity.
The condition of the Christian post conversion is like a youth who is just beginning school. His goal is to go day by day and to listen to the teacher and learn things that will be the foundation for the next days lessons. As the student constantly goes and learns and matures then he is promoted to the next grade until he eventually graduates. If we evaluate the student at the beginning of his schooling and then at the point of his graduation, we would expect to see a stark difference in his level of knowledge and maturity. So it is with the Christian. When we are first converted we tend to be pretty ruff around the edges, but hopefully as time goes on as we devote ourselves to God, submitting ourselves to his teaching and leading, we will grow in knowledge and maturity. Where we differ from the analogy is that we grow independently so it would be hard to group us into classes or grades. Also, as Christians the process of maturing never stops in this life. Going to be with Lord is the graduation. I offer this analogy to show that our maturity is a process that occurs as we move through time. It’s not just a we are converted and instantly we are mature type of thing. In light of this of this we have to understand what can hinder our growth.
Look at today’s verse. Jesus is teaching us that if we want God to forgive our sins, we must first have forgiven those who have sinned against us. We have to acknowledge the context here. Jesus is teaching this to people who are already following Him. I would submit that the unwillingness to forgive others does not prevent our conversion, but unwillingness to forgive others does keep us from maturing as Christians. This is key because we have to remember that in Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, God forgave us. There will never be a greater sacrifice than Jesus’ and there will never be an act of forgiveness greater than the one that Father grants to us. This foundational to our faith. On this teaching we build others. We are to forgive the offenses that come our way by others because we have been forgiven so much ourselves. So how does this tie to maturity?
As Christians we will continue to sin until we graduate from this life and are united with Jesus in heaven. We have to remember that God does not allow us to grow unless we ask to be forgiven of the sins we commit along the way. Looking at today’s teaching we must understand that forgiving others is the key for our own forgiveness and once we are cleansed from our sins we continue to mature in the Lord. Growth comes from forgiving others and repenting of sin. These two activities work in concert by God’s Spirit to move us from just learning pupils to advancing mature students in our Christian walk.
Heavenly Father, thank you God you that started a work in each of us when you called us to be apart of your family and Kingdom. Thank you God that you walk with us to see that work to completion. Thank you Lord Jesus for your example of sacrifice in the face of unwarranted persecution. Father help us by your Spirit to offer others the forgiveness you have offered us. Father, forgive us our sins and guide us into maturity. We submit to you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.