Day nine: A heart in need of transformation
Fasting Devotional Day Nine: Monday, January 10, 2022 Text: Matthew 6:15 "But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins."
By Teresa Gatlin
Today's verse is challenging because Jesus says that if we do not forgive others for their sins, God will not forgive our sins. Does this mean that if we do not forgive others, we are not saved? I think Jesus is speaking more about God's desire for His people to come face to face with the sin of an unforgiving heart. He desires for our hearts to be aligned with His will. In Colossians 3:13, Paul says to "Make allowance for each other's faults and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others." When we hold on to unforgiveness, bitterness, and hurt, we are not making allowances for others' faults and remembering the Lord's forgiveness of our sins. An unforgiving heart is a heart in need of transformation. A transformed heart is aligned with God and results in a changed life that offers the same mercy and forgiveness received by God to others. God's forgiveness is to be shared!
Twelve years ago, I encountered a betrayal that changed my life forever. But not in the way you might think. You see, this betrayal did not ruin my life or set my life down a path of pain and suffering. No. This betrayal taught me about forgiveness. God had prepared my heart for the moment of confession. I was in a season of my faith, overwhelmed by the mercy and grace extended to me from the cross. I was learning to see myself through the eyes of God and was so thankful that He saw past my brokenness. When a heart-wrenching confession threatened to hurt my pride and have me hold my offender in contempt, I gazed in the eyes of my offender and saw myself — broken, sinful, willing to face the consequences, but desperate for grace. My eyes welled up with tears, and I looked into the eyes of the person who hurt me and said, "I forgive you." Because of where I was in my relationship with God, I felt a strong commission to forgive in the same way my Heavenly Father had forgiven me. This experience with forgiveness changed my heart forever, teaching me to remember how much God has forgiven me when someone hurts me.
Forgiveness is not easy, but it brings our lives in right alignment with God and sets us free. Lewis B. Smede said, "To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you."
When Jesus was teaching in the Sermon on the Mount he was teaching about love- love for our Heavenly Father and love for people. Jesus made it clear that His followers should live in a noticeably different way than other people. Forgiveness is one way we can demonstrate love for our Heavenly Father and people. There's a verse in a David crowder song that says we are "drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes. If His grace is an ocean, we're all sinking." God's grace engulfs us! In light of His engulfing grace and our redemption, consider those that have wronged you. Do they see grace in your eyes, or does your unforgiving heart need to be transformed? A transformed heart extends God's engulfing grace to others.