Is God’s Forgiveness Conditional?
Jesus wants us to fully forgive others so that we may be fully forgiven
In asking the simple question, “Is God’s forgiveness conditional?” the answer seems obvious: “No! God’s forgiveness is unconditional.”
I was taught that if I followed Jesus, he would forgive me. It was a fact. Forgiveness was unconditional. It made sense, and it comforted me.
However, Jesus’s instruction in today’s passage seems to question this assumption.
Jesus teaches about prayer. He says that when we pray, if we think of someone holding something against us, we must forgive them “so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins” (Mark 11:25, NIV).
Does this mean that if we withhold forgiveness from others that God will withhold forgiveness from us?
I think so.
Recall the Lord’s Prayer. One phrase says, “Forgive us our debts, as we have also forgiven our debtors” (Matthew 6:12, NIV). This phrase flows from our mouths with ease. On the surface these words offer us assurance of forgiveness. But I don’t think that’s what Jesus means by this simple expression. He seems to be saying that to the degree we forgive others, God will then forgive us.To the degree we forgive others, God will forgive us. Click To Tweet
Stated another way, the extent to which we withhold forgiveness, will be the extent to which God withholds our forgiveness.
What a terrifying thought.
Between what Jesus instructs us through the Lord’s Prayer and what he teaches in today’s text, we get the real feeling that the degree to which we can receive God’s forgiveness hinges on the degree to which we extend forgiveness to others.
This is a sobering thought.
May we always forgive fully, so that we may be fully forgiven.
Peter DeHaan writes about biblical spirituality, often with a postmodern slant. He seeks a fresh approach to faith and following God through the lens of scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.