MATTHEW 5:14-15: “Forgive other people when they sin against you. If you do, your Father who is in heaven will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive the sins of other people, your Father will not forgive your sins.” (NIrV)

OBSERVATION: Am I walking in the freedom of forgiveness? As I approach a New Year, it behooves me to ask the Lord to search my heart to see if there are any seeds of unforgiveness that have begun to take root in my life. It is subtle how these little seeds can begin to germinate. They can be planted by misunderstandings, disappointments, and just plain living in a mixed up and broken world. We need to combine Matthew 5:14-15 with the preceding instructions to prayer in verse 12,

  • “And forgive us our sins, just as we also have forgiven those who sin against us.”

It is the “just as” part of this verse that so often trips us up. We want to be forgiven, and walk in the freedom of forgiveness. However, in order to do so, we must also walk in the spirit of forgiveness toward others. For the believer in Jesus Christ, this is not speaking about one’s salvation and standing with the Lord. This is received by grace through faith – alone! This is speaking of our daily walk after the Spirit. This is talking about how we live in this wonderful provision of salvation. Those who have been freely forgiven by the grace and mercy of God are called to also forgive!

Forgiveness is not dependent upon the removal or recovery from all hurt. If it was – we would never forgive anyone! There are situations in my life that, when brought to my mind, still bring up emotional wounds that are tender. These are much like bruises. A bruise does not keep one from moving forward, but bump that bruise ever so slightly, and – “Ouch” – the hurt is quickly brought back to full recall! This is why the call to forgiveness was preceded by the call to worship, and the call for God’s mercy and provision!

  • “”This is how you should pray. ” ‘Our Father in heaven, may your name be honored. May your kingdom come. May what you want to happen be done on earth as it is done in heaven. Give us today our daily bread.” (‭‭Matthew‬ ‭6:9-11‬ ‭NIrV)

And this is why the call to forgive is followed by a petition for God’s continued protection and guidance!

  • “Keep us from falling into sin when we are tempted. Save us from the evil one.’” (‭‭Matthew‬ ‭6:13‬ ‭NIrV)

Forgiveness is an act of faith that proceeds from the possession of God’s mercy. We have freely been forgiven through the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ. Now, through the power of the Spirit, and in obedience to the call of grace – we forgive! It is only then that we are set free to live above the tyrannical rule of bitterness in our lives. We may still carry some of the pain and scars from the hurts of our past, but these neither control us, nor do they limit us. We have been washed, cleansed, healed, and delivered by the precious blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. 

And – we are walking in His freedom – because we have chosen to forgive!

Lord, search my heart and reveal any roots of bitterness or unforgiveness that are in my life. Help me to quickly surrender these at Your Cross, and to call upon You for the grace needed to extend full forgiveness to anyone who has hurt or offended me. May I also humbly repent for anything I have done to hurt or offend others. If there is anything that I need to do to be reconciled to another, please grant me the understanding and the grace to do so. 

Help me to enter into this New Year in the wonderful provision of forgiveness!

In Jesus Name!‬‬

About Kirk's Devotional Journal

Kirk L. Zehnder is the Founder of Resurrection Christian Outreach. RCO is a ministry that promotes the growth and vitality of the local church through speaking engagements, seminars, various media tools, and written curriculum and books. This ministry was started over 35 years ago by Kirk as a means to strengthen the church that he was pastoring. It grew as Kirk began to share these tools with other churches. Today many of the materials are being used by local churches both nationally and internationally. Kirk's Devotional Journal is a result of struggling with Bible reading programs that never seemed to work. Kirk feels the Lord helped him discover an easy-to-follow program to Read, Reflect, Pray, and Journal through the Bible in one year. This program is called L.I.F.E. Unlike other programs there are no dates to follow. You can miss a day and still complete your reading. You never feel like the dates and verses you missed are chasing you. You are free to enjoy your daily Biblical journey and listen to the voice of The Lord. For more information on the L.I.F.E. plan, send an email to Kirk is also available for speaking engagements, seminars, and retreats. With over 40 years of professional business and pastoral ministry experience, Kirk brings a unique combination of practical wisdom, humor, and Biblical insight. If you would like Kirk to speak at your church, school, or ministry, please send an email to and we will get back to you as soon as possible to discuss your opportunity.
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