August 9-10, 2008
The Command to Forgive
Mercy is best understood when we have experienced it on both the giving and receiving ends. The truth is, we simply may not realize the gift’s high price until we’ve pardoned someone who wronged us—as much as we long to be given clemency, our human nature struggles against offering it. So a warning follows the Lord’s Prayer: God won’t forgive those who withhold forgiveness from others.
Jesus is not saying that an unforgiving spirit cancels our salvation. When we receive Him as Savior, our sin-debt is paid in full. But even believers will sometimes fail to do right. Though these wrongs pose no danger to our eternal destiny, they do obstruct fellowship with God. Think of our connection with Him as a long pipe which sin can clog. Then our prayers cannot go up, and His blessings are prevented from raining down. So Christians must do regular spiritual “housecleaning”—confession and repentance from sin.
A bitter spirit toward another person will “clog” our fellowship with the Father—when we allow anger into our heart, it tends to squeeze Him out of His rightful place in our life. Furthermore, negative feelings will seep into other areas and affect what we think, say, and do. Then when we most need the Lord’s help or comfort, His Spirit will not move.
Is a lack of mercy blocking your fellowship with the Lord? If so, you have a choice. Either continue hindering His love, or cry out to Him from under your bitter load. God will hear the prayer, cleanse your heart, and patiently teach you to forgive.
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