>By Allen White

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

What would the church look like if every believer put this verse into practice? What if you did?

There are two ways to read this verse. There is a guilt-inducing way to read this verse that goes like this: “God forgave you, so you’d better start forgiving other people, before God decides to take His forgiveness back.” When we make this verse a “have to” instead of a “want to,” we create a heavy burden.

Fortunately, there is a life-giving way to read this verse: “God’s forgiveness enables us to show kindness and compassion to others and to forgive each other.” That’s not so bad, except that when people hurt us, we tend to want them to “pay” a little bit first.

Forgiveness seldom comes easy. Some things seem nearly impossible to forgive: insults and abuses, betrayal and injustice are more than a little difficult to get past. What are we supposed to do?

If we back track a few days in these devotionals, we understand that this verse came about because God’s Spirit inspired it and intended for us to read it.

We also see that God’s Spirit lives in us. When we are at odds with other people, the Spirit will bring a verse like this to mind, or beat us over the head, whichever we need.

The third piece is that the Spirit possesses the power that raised Christ from the dead. Jesus, who lived a perfect life and never sinned, forgave the sins of the entire world, and was raised from the dead by the Spirit’s power. Is it harder for us to forgive than for Christ to overcome death, hell and the grave?

Now, don’t get all tied up in knots. Put this before God. “God, you know what they did to me. You know how I feel about them. You know what kind of people they are. Yet, Your Word directs me to forgive them as part of Your vision for my life. I don’t know how to do that. I need You, Lord, by Your Spirit to help me, because this is not something that I could possibly do on my own.”

Pray a prayer like that, and then pay attention to what happens next. God will prove Himself to you. God will provide a way. God will help you. It works every time.

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