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Christian Living

Spiritual Life

I'll Forgive You, If ...

"Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven." Matthew 18:18 (NIV)

Catherine Marshall in her 1974 book, Something More, wrote a chapter titled “Forgiveness: The Aughts and the Anys.” The Chapter references Matthew 18:18. Reading this chapter was a game-changer in my life with respect to the relationship between answered prayer and forgiveness.

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. 

After reading the “Aught Against Any” chapter, I applied this principle to my own life. Like Catherine Marshall, I systematically released my “aughts against all the anys” in my life, and the result was incredible. I have many examples, but I will share one involving one of our daughters. I realized I was holding on to resentment about decisions she was making while away at college. It was causing strain on our relationship. I tried talking to her. I prayed. I sought Godly counsel. Nothing worked. After reading this chapter, I confessed my judgment. I actually prayed the prayer Catherine Marshall suggested, “Lord, I release (name) from my judgment. Forgive me that I may have bound her and hampered Your work by judging. Now I step out of the way so that Heaven can go into action for (name).” 

It wasn’t long before our daughter called to share she had met a few Christian friends and started attending a Bible Study. I watched her grow in her faith. Over time, our relationship healed. I did what was required of me as her mother. I loved her, and I prayed and released her.

Jesus tells us in John 16:8 that the Holy Spirit will convict the world of sin which was not and never was our job. Our job is to love and leave room for the Holy Spirit to work. 

I encourage you to apply this principle in your life!

Copyright © 2017 Anne Ferrell Tata. Used by permission.

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