Forgive from the heart

2021-02-05
Matthew 18:33 NLT

Jesus told this story: ‘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…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…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…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 sisters from your heart’ (Matthew 18:23-35 NLT).

Are you holding on to resentment or struggling to forgive someone? Today, with God’s help, make the choice to begin the process of forgiveness.

Isa 63-66; Matt 12:38-50; Ps 120; Prov 3:33-35

Forgive because you’ve been forgiven


Matthew 18:33 NLT

Jesus said: “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…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…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…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 sisters from your heart” (vv. 23-35 NLT).

If you are harboring resentment and refusing to forgive someone, read this story again. It’s the word for you today!

Soul food: Isa 63-66; Matt 12:38-50; Ps 120; Prov 3:33-35

Get rid of bitterness

2020-12-16
Ephesians 4:31 NLT

The words ‘get rid of all bitterness’ might make us think of a doctor thoroughly cleaning a wound to prevent infection. Another translation, ‘Looking carefully…lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble’ (Hebrews 12:15 NKJV), commands us to be vigilant in case a tiny seed of bitterness takes root inside us and causes problems.

Bitterness has many sources: someone who has hurt us; a nasty relationship breakup; the careless words of a friend who’s not even aware of their effect; a work colleague who doesn’t appreciate what we do.

The way to get rid of bitterness is for us to forgive, before the problem becomes embedded in our emotions and starts feeding off our memories. The Message paraphrases Paul’s words: ‘Make a clean break…Forgive one another as quickly…as…Christ forgave you’ (Ephesians 4:31-32 MSG). Harbouring bitterness won’t change the other person, but it will change us – and not for the better. What happens is this: Satan enters the picture and persuades us that it’s okay to harbour resentment, usually by convincing us that we’re just protecting ourselves from getting hurt again. We justify our position, and get comfortable living with resentment and bitterness.

When we don’t tackle these feelings, they can turn into a grudge, where we refuse to let go of the hurt and desire revenge instead of forgiveness. But that doesn’t have to happen to us, because there’s no negative emotion so deeply rooted in us that God’s grace can’t reach down and remove it.

So let’s draw close to God and ask Him to help us forgive, and exchange our revenge for His justice.

Neh 8-10; John 20:1-9; Ps 105:37-45; Prov 30:20-23

Forgive like Jesus

2020-11-09
Luke 6:35 NLT

In Luke 6, Jesus gives us a command: ‘To you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you…If you love only those who love you, why should you get credit for that? Even sinners love those who love them!… Love your enemies! Do good to them…and you will be truly acting as children of the Most High, for he is kind to those who are unthankful and wicked. You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate’ (v.27-36 NLT).

Later, we see Jesus put this command into action in the most powerful way. As He was dying on the cross, exhausted, humiliated, and in excruciating pain, He prayed for everyone who had put Him there: ‘Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing’ (Luke 23:34 NLT). In the midst of His unimaginable suffering, He stayed faithful to God’s will, loving His enemies, doing good to those who hated Him, and praying for those who had hurt Him. We need to remember His model of forgiveness and work towards being as forgiving when someone wrongs us. (We also need to remember that if someone has harmed us or put us in danger, it’s important that we seek help.)

Forgiveness is a process, and it probably won’t come naturally to us at first. How often have we held a grudge or got irritated when someone didn’t hold a door open for us, or used our favourite mug, or sat in ‘our’ place at church? Let’s start the process by meeting these minor irritations with forgiveness, and work our way towards a heart like Christ’s.

1 Chr 6:1-7:19; John 9:13-23; Ps 115; Prov 25:23-25

Be patient

2020-10-09
Proverbs 15:18 NIV

In the book of Proverbs, we’re often advised to be patient, or slow to get angry (take a look at Proverbs 14:29; 15:18; 16:32). That doesn’t mean that being angry is always wrong. There are only a few times in Scripture when Jesus showed anger. He got angry with the money changers and merchants in the temple, who weren’t charging fair prices and were treating the holy place as a market. (You can read about this in Matthew 21:12-13, Mark 11:15-18 and John 2:13-22.) He was also angry with the Pharisees in Mark 3:4-5 when they wouldn’t answer His question about whether it was right to heal someone on the Sabbath. Jesus got angry with unfairness, corruption, and hypocrisy, especially when those involved should have known better. But He never became angry about what someone did to Him, and never retaliated or lashed out at people who wronged Him. Even as His executioners nailed Him to the cross, He prayed, ‘Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing’ (Luke 23:34 NLT).

We should follow His example. Proverbs 15:1 says: ‘A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare’ (NLT). During an argument, what usually happens is the people involved tend to match their tones of voice, so when one shouts, the other shouts back. But if someone takes a moment to check their tone, and replies to a shouted, angry comment with a calm, gentle reply, it can take some of the heat out of the situation, and avoid it becoming a furious confrontation where the people involved achieve very little beyond upsetting each other.

So let’s follow Jesus’ example, and try to be patient, calm and gentle, even when we’re dealing with angry, hurtful people.

1 Sam 27-31; John 1:43-51; Ps 23; Prov 23:4-5