Why is it challenging for us to follow a godly path? As we mentioned last weekend, two conflicting tendencies exist within every believer: the patterns of the corrupted old self—or "the flesh"—and the righteousness of a new nature in Christ. The characteristics of these opposing inclinations are vividly portrayed in today's verses. The quality of forgiveness, or the lack of it, will largely determine which tendency prevails in our lives.
The inevitable result of unforgiveness is anger, bitterness, and malice. By refusing to forgive, we allow the old flesh nature to dominate and produce its poisonous fruit. Every area of our life is affected when we refuse to extend to others the pardon Christ so generously extended to us—in essence, we are treating those around us as we would never want the Lord to treat us. Thankfully, His mercy toward us has no limit.
Although the pain and injustice of an offense can break our heart or damage our sense of self-worth, a refusal to forgive denies God the opportunity to redeem the hurt. We want Him to change the offender and make him sorry for what he has done, but the Lord wants to transform us. Forgiveness frees us to live in our new Christlike nature and enables us to see others through eyes of grace and mercy.
Look again at verses 31 and 32. Which one describes you? As believers, we all long to exhibit the qualities of our new nature, but the Lord can produce them only if we are willing to exchange offenses and grudges for tender hearts that forgive. Something has to change—let it be you.
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