From an early age, we’re told to offer and ask for forgiveness, but it’s often hard to do or truly feel it in our hearts.
In the story of the unmerciful servant found in Matthew 18:21, Peter asks Jesus, “Lord how often should I forgive someone who sins against me?” And then he adds, “Seven times?” (NLT)
I love Peter. He reminds me of myself. I imagine Jesus had a few loving laughs over Peter’s responses and questions in the three years they were together. I can see Him smiling at Peter and answering, “Not seven times… but seventy times seven!” (Matthew 18:22 NLT)
Jesus’ answer makes it clear that forgiveness is always the expected response.
So why was forgiveness heavy on my heart? A week ago, my daughter found out a student and teammate was spreading a rumor about her. This was a hurtful lie not only to her, but to another teammate as well. To make matters more difficult, the perpetrator was a teammate with whom she’d already had some not-so-happy dealings.
So there I was—an adult, a wife, a mom, a woman in ministry—mad as a hornet about this injustice towards my daughter.
And yet, Proverbs 17:9 says, “Love prospers when a fault is forgiven, but dwelling on it separates close friends.” (NLT)I was suffocating love, the first and greatest commandment from Jesus, and allowing this incident, the UN-forgiveness I was carrying inside my heart, to ruin my whole week. I thought about this rumor constantly, about what I wanted to say to this student, her mother, their coach… I dwelled on the negativity stemming from it all.
Proverbs 17:9 put me in my place like only the Scripture can, and I went to God to flush my un-forgiveness from my heart. I went into prayer-mode. I needed to stop fuming and go to Him about it. I needed to tell Him how hurt I was, ask Him to help me get over my anger, and ask Him to help my daughter and her classmate figure out how to move forward.
Job 11:13-16 says, “If only you would prepare your heart and lift up your hands in prayer! Get rid of your sins, and leave all iniquity behind you. Then your face will brighten with innocence. You will be strong and free. You will forget your misery; it will be like water flowing away.” (NLT)
Jesus promises, in John 7:38, when we come to Him, “Rivers of living waters will flow from his heart.” (NLT) Prayer bursts open wide this Living Water, so it can flow outward, affecting everyone in its path. It washes all things, brings them back to life, soothes any pain, and removes any sin-stain.
Like Peter, I’m a work-in-progress, and I imagine Jesus has plenty of loving grins over my responses and actions. But after turning to Him in prayer, I felt free again, unbound by the chains of my un-forgiving heart.
Are you trapping His Living Water from flowing outward with your un-forgiving heart? Heed Job’s words. Go to Him and get busy flushing it out.
For more great thoughts, check out the newly released book, 90 Day Devotional, in which Kristen, along with various others, share their hearts and wisdom.
About the book, 90 Day Devotional
Each day, God beckons us to Himself, calling us to rest in His love and grace. As we do, He heals our hurts, overpowers our fears with love, and restores us to the women He created us to be. This 90-day devotional, written by women who are learning themselves to live anchored in God’s grace, will help you deepen your faith and grow your relationship with Christ.
About the Author
Kristen Terrette holds a Master’s degree in Theological Studies and served as a Children’s Ministry Director for five years. She cherishes her Southern roots and currently lives 45 minutes outside of Atlanta, GA. She’s following her dream by writing Christian during the day and being a wife and mom come early afternoon when the family starts to arrive home. She’s serves on the Wholly Loved Ministries team, serves at her local church on the women’s leadership and teaching team, and writes for Crosswalk.com. To see her blog and novels, check out her website at www.kristenterrette.com.