Clenched Fists - Hope 103.2

Clenched Fists

Forgiving others can be a long and painful process where things might be messy for some time. But as long as we are willing to embark on that process, we show we have received mercy ourselves.

By David ReayThursday 23 Aug 2018LifeWords DevotionalsFaithReading Time: 2 minutes

Read Matthew 6:14-15

14-15 “For if you forgive other people their failures, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you will not forgive other people, neither will your Heavenly Father forgive you your failures.” (JBP)

Verses like this can be easily misunderstood. It appears as if God’s forgiveness of us is dependent on our forgiveness of others. In which case it makes his forgiveness of us a reward for our good conduct. If we do the right thing by others he will do the right thing by us.

Despite appearances, this is not the way it is. Forgiveness is an act of sheer grace which can’t be earned. It can be claimed by recognising our failures and flinging ourselves on the mercy of God expressed in Jesus. But this is no cause for boasting on our part.

It may well be that Jesus is saying that a sure sign of having received his forgiveness is a willingness to extend that forgiveness to others. Or to put it another way, a sure sign you haven’t received mercy is to refuse to show mercy to others. A bit like the matter of good works in general: they don’t earn our salvation but are necessary evidence of it.

Forgiving others can be a long and painful process where things might be messy for some time. But as long as we are willing to embark on that process, we show we have received mercy ourselves. Refusing to even have a go might sadly be evidence that you are a stranger to the mercy of God.

Having a clenched-fist attitude to others’ failings makes it impossible for us to have an open hand to receiving God’s forgiveness for our own failings.

Blessings
David Reay