A Forgiving Heart

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Don't let the issue of forgiveness hinder your prayer life. Forgive as Christ has forgiven you.

The Bible records an occasion in which Peter approached Jesus with a question: "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister?" Now, Peter must have thought he was a benevolent guy, offering Jesus his own answer to the question, "Up to seven times?" (Matthew 18:21). But Jesus exposed the error in Peter's thinking -- the way Peter's heart did not align with His: "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times'" (v. 22). We should forgive others until we lose count. After all, it's not really forgiveness if we are keeping score.

Similarly, our prayer life is hindered by an unforgiving spirit. In the parable of the unmerciful servant in Matthew 18:23-35, Jesus tells us about a servant who owes his master more money than he can earn in a lifetime. The master, though, is gracious and forgives the poor slave's debt. But when he leaves his master's presence, the servant encounters a friend who owes him a small sum -- and he refuses to forgive.

If we fail to forgive others the way God forgave us, we are broadcasting to the world that we disagree with the lavish manner in which He forgives. The world hears that message, and so does God. So don't let the issue of forgiveness, whichever side you're on, hinder your prayer life. Forgive as Christ has forgiven you.

Prayer: Lord, let the message of my life be that the Lord forgives and I am saved by Your grace. I rejoice in Your lavish love. Help me to expel bitterness and resentment and rather pour out Your love and forgiveness to those around me by Your power, remembering what You have done for me. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

"Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you" (Ephesians 4:32).

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