October 7 - Why Forgive?

By Mary J. Yerkes

Today's Scripture: Colossians 3:13

Central Thought: Forgiveness is a choice that honors God and frees us to experience His peace, blessings, and restoration.

    All of us have been hurt at one time or another, often by those closest to us—our spouse, family members, or friends. Perhaps your spouse was unfaithful to you, or a family member betrayed you? Maybe a close friend let you down? Situations like this can leave us feeling angry and bitter—struggling with unforgiveness. Who comes to your mind when someone raises the topic of unforgiveness?

    When others sin against us, our fleshly nature demands revenge and retaliation. However, God calls us to walk not in the flesh but in the Spirit. In his letter to the Colossians, Paul admonished to 'forgive as the Lord forgave you” (3:13 NIV). In Matthew 5:44 (NKJV) Jesus said, 'Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.” Why would Jesus ask us to do something so difficult? Why forgive?

    The reasons to forgive are many. First, forgiveness honors God and displays His love. It grows our character and moves us towards maturity. It frees us to experience God's peace and His blessings. Forgiveness also opens doors to share the gospel as those around us witness a divine response to a difficult situation. Finally, we forgive for our own well-being, to begin the work of healing and restoration in our lives—spiritually, emotionally, and physically.

    Ultimately, forgiveness is a choice. Its rewards are many—cleansing, healing, and wholeness—to name a few. Unforgiveness, on the other hand, separates us from God; it destroys families, churches, friendships, careers, and more. Each time someone sins against us, we are faced with a choice—to forgive or not to forgive—life or death. Which will you choose?

    'Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts” (Hebrews 3:7-8).

Devotional Prayer: Lord, by Your grace, I choose to forgive ____________. Begin the work of healing and restoration in my life and the lives of those around me, that Your name will be glorified.

Today's Bible Reading: Jeremiah 8:8-9:26; Colossians 3:1-17; Psalm 78:32-55; Proverbs 24:27