“Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many” (Hebrews 12:14-15).
Forgiveness isn’t easy, but it is required. It is more than possible to miss the grace of God. The key is connected to what it means to forgive from the deepest heart, or merely to tolerate behavior and “stuff it” until it explodes into a bitter rage. Failure to forgive leads to a growth in negative inner grief. The old saying goes “Bitter or better.”
Bitterness is nothing more than old unforgiveness. Bitterness is what grows from a seed of injustice, planted and watered in the garden of what-might-have-been. When nurtured, it brings forth fruit. This fruit, fully mature, tastes sweet at first bite, but it turns the inner being sour with a harsh and biting deep despair.
Jesus told us to forgive. More than this, He commanded us to pray for our forgiveness based on how we extend it to others! He leaves no room for yesterday’s sins and the grudges we nurse from old offenses. The kingdom is here and it means mercy! It stands for release from past wounds—suffered from those who sinned against us—based on the blood of His Son.
It is sobering to listen to the words that follow immediately after our Lord taught us to pray this prayer: “For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions” (Matthew 6:14-15, NASB).
Forgiveness is such a kingdom priority that our Lord made sure we understood this by adding an addendum to the prayer. The thrust is that if we receive mercy, we are to extend it. receiving forgiveness must grow us to become so like Christ that we extend it to others freely.
Lord, teach me to have a heart of forgiveness and to turn my back on bitterness in my thoughts, actions and speech. Draw me towards a deep desire to demonstrate only grace and mercy to others, even when they are unkind or do damage. May Jesus live within me so fully that there is no room for anything but His character to be seen in my life.
Praise the Lord Almighty, who allows city dwellers around the world to seek him (Zech. 8:20ff). Thank God for letting you find him. Confess times you have become indifferent and inattentive to his presence. Commit yourself to ongoing communion with him throughout the day. Ask God to regularly fill you with the joy of his salvation (Ps. 51:7-12).
Pray that God will move the hearts of national leaders throughout the world to provide open doors for the spread of God’s salvation. Ask that the kingdom of this world will become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ (Rev. 11:15) very soon!
–Adapted from Power Praying (Hearing Jesus’ Spirit by Praying Jesus’ Prayer) by David Chotka. This book is available at prayershop.org. Use the code CONPSP3 at checkout to receive an additional 10% discount.