By Pastor Vinnie Cappetta
"Opening the Door to Forgiveness"
Proverbs 28:14 reports, “whoever hardens their heart falls into trouble.”
Ephesians 4:32 commands us to be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God has forgiven us.
How do we keep our hearts from becoming hard to God and others?
How can we open the door to forgiveness?
J.R. Packard recounts the story of a riot in progress with blacks and whites fighting each other. The mother of the little black boy who originally told the story has been hurt. Her family has just gone down and picked her up off the ground and placed her in bed.
The little black boy is standing by the window with his grandmother watching what is going on below. As they watch the fighting they notice a white boy running away from a group of blacks. It seems that he’ll get away until he makes a fatal mistake. He turns down their alley, not knowing that it is a dead end. Too late, he realizes his mistake and turns with a look of horror on his face towards the black youths who are coming after him.
As the little boy watches, he sees a door open below and his grandmother standing there beckoning the white boy to escape through the open door. The little boy says, "At first I was glad because my grandmother had opened the door so the white boy could escape. Then I remembered my mother bleeding on the bed, and that white people had done that to her. Then I was angry at my grandmother for opening the door."
He goes on, "The trouble is that when people hate each other, the people who are the objects of the hate want to hate the people who hate them, and hurt the people who hurt them, and insult the people who insult them. Soon we find ourselves in a vicious cycle of hating, hurting, and insulting. And nobody opens the door. So we just keep on hurting and hating and insulting." J.R. Packard, from “The Trouble Is”
It isn’t easy to be kind to those who have hurt you, but kindness opens the door that can lead to a tender heart, which can lead to forgiveness just as Christ has forgiven us.
· Romans 2:5 reveals that when we harden our hearts we are treasuring up __________ and will have to face the judgment of God.
- Who did Job say was the one who could make his heart soft (Job 23:16)?
- What practical advice does Proverbs 15:1 offer about expressing your tender heart to others?