“This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart.” (Matt. 18:35)

TUCKED IN THE CENTER of the Lord’s Prayer is an assumption. “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors” (Matt. 6:12). After decades of repeating that prayer, the enormity of that sentence finally hit me. Coming to God for forgiveness assumes that I am also willing to forgive. Unless I have a forgiving spirit toward others, I cannot expect God to have one toward me.

God loves us and chooses to forgive our debt of sin through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus. The normal reaction should be to pass that along to our neighbors. When we do not, it stops up the process just as a clog stops up a drain.

Unforgiveness leads to grudges, which can lead to anger, which can lead to us withholding our love for the other person. Negative emotions block the flow of mercy, a flow that begins as a response of God’s love for us. When God’s love is not flowing through us, everything becomes clouded by our emotions, and we do not see God moving in our own lives. Sin blocks us from receiving God’s mercy. Our hearts harden. Love cannot enter. And so the cycle continues that only forgiveness can break.

Ask God if there is someone you have yet to forgive. 

Julie B. Cosgrove is an award-winning, multi-published author who regularly writes for several devotional websites and publications.

© 2018 Wesleyan Publishing House. Reprinted from Light from the Word. Used by permission.