Mark 11:25 states, “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.” That pretty much covers it. Forgiveness is to be extended to anyone regarding anything. I could come up with a million reasons why certain things should not be forgiven. In my mind and heart I can justify why forgiveness is not the right response to a given situation. In my line of work I face horrific and “unforgivable” situations on a regular basis. Does anything really include physical, sexual, or emotional abuse? What about arson, robbery, or murder? Should you really forgive someone who tries to intentionally hurt you? What does “anything” really mean here? Aren’t there exceptions to “anything”? What about backstabbing, gossip, and malicious talk that destroys your reputation? The list could go on and on.
In my mind, I like to believe that there are exceptions to this “anything.” I wrestle with this text. It pins me to the floor with its lack of qualification. There is nothing outside the purview of this command—nothing. It is an all-encompassing imperative. Any wrong that can be done is a wrong that can and must be forgiven. Seem impossible to you? Does to me. Probably because it is. Forgiveness is a divine work of the Holy Spirit within a person that enables them to extend grace and mercy in the most impossible situations. Anyone who has suffered the pain of forgiveness will likely say, “I really can’t take credit for that, it’s not in me. God has done the work in and through me.”
The command seems even more impossible when you read the word “anyone.” Not just anything, but “anyone.” Everyone of us could bring a face to mind of an individual that we believe should be placed outside the realm of forgiveness. This is where the text gets personal. We are talking specifically about the offender. Yep, the person that you try not to think about, but when you do your heart rate increases and hatred floods your veins. If it’s not that close to home—the person that is beyond redemption…a hitler, a dahmer, a manson. That person that certainly should not be forgiven for his/her horrendous deeds. This is the scandal of the gospel. I will be the first to admit that this scandal makes me uncomfortable. I want exceptions. I don’t want to be one, but I want exceptions. I want to decide who should be forgiven and who shouldn’t be forgiven. I want to take this “anyone” and turn it into “anyone I deem worthy.” The Word of God will not have it. Again we are pinned to the ground by the breathtaking nature of unqualified forgiveness. “Anyone” actually means “anyone.”
This lavish forgiveness is reflective of God’s engagement with me, the sinner. He looks at my “anything” and wipes it clean on the basis of the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. He refuses to hold anything against me when I trust in Christ. He looks at this “anyone” and releases me from all my debt by becoming my ransom. There is nothing and no one he is unwilling to forgive—there are no exceptions to this, none. His grace is non-descriminatory. What kind of grace is this? Oh that I could get it so I could extend it! Have mercy on me O God.