When does God withhold forgiveness?


“And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses.  But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses” (Mark 11: 25-26.)


A ‘trespass’ is a harmful voluntary action taken against another person.  In a world filled with human beings, trespasses abound; accompanying those trespasses are resentments; a ‘resentment’ is ‘any feeling of hostility, anger, or hatred toward another person as the result of a real or imagined harm.’  Trespasses against God are also abundant, and very easily remedied; one need only ask God for forgiveness, and He is willing to forgive completely.  The Lord harbors no hidden resentment as human beings often do (even after professing true forgiveness.)  God’s mercy is great but not without condition.  Lack of forgiveness for others is the one circumstance in which God withholds His forgiveness.  A person cannot receive the benefits of God’s forgiveness, if they refuse to extend that same forgiveness to others.

Jesus used a parable to illustrate how God deals with those who are unwilling to forgive others.  He said, “Therefore, the Kingdom of Heaven can be compared to a king who decided to bring his accounts up to date with servants who had borrowed money from him.  In the process, one of his debtors was brought in who owed him millions of dollars. He couldn’t pay, so his master ordered that he be sold—along with his wife, his children, and everything he owned—to pay the debt…But the man fell down before his master and begged him, ‘Please, be patient with me, and I will pay it all.’  Then his master was filled with pity for him, and he released him and forgave his debt…But when the man left the king, he went to a fellow servant who owed him a few thousand dollars. He grabbed him by the throat and demanded instant payment…His fellow servant fell down before him and begged for a little more time. ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it,’ he pleaded.  But his creditor wouldn’t wait. He had the man arrested and put in prison until the debt could be paid in full…When some of the other servants saw this, they were very upset. They went to the king and told him everything that had happened.  Then the king called in the man he had forgiven and said, ‘You evil servant! I forgave you that tremendous debt because you pleaded with me.  Shouldn’t you have mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you?’  Then the angry king sent the man to prison to be tortured until he had paid his entire debt…That’s what my heavenly Father will do to you if you refuse to forgive your brothers and sistersfrom your heart.”

Take a moment to ponder the worst trespasses you have ever committed (trespasses that perhaps you have never revealed to anyone.)  […………………………….]  Has God forgiven you for your evils?  […]  Now take a moment to search your heart for any anger or resentment; is there anyone you have refused to forgive?  […………………………..]  If there is anyone at all, forgive them completely; let go of any lingering pieces of anger; let go of the hurt and the pain; allow God to replace your contempt with love, and your hatred with understanding and compassion; knowing that the God of mercy has fully forgiven you, and requires that you extend that same mercy and forgiveness to others.

“Lord Heavenly Father, please reveal any hatred or resentment we hold within our hearts.  By the power of Your Holy Spirit, give us the ability to forgive all those who have sinned against us.  May we forgive completely, and may our hearts and minds be cleansed of any lingering anger.  May we feel love for those who have trespassed against us.  Father we thank You for Your forgiveness; for Your mercy; and for Your patience and love.  We love You and praise You; and we ask and pray all of these things in Jesus Christ’s name.  Amen.”  God bless all of you.

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