Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "All Creatures Of Our God And King"1 (Lyrics)
Proverbs 28:13-14 – He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy. Blessed is the man who always fears the Lord, but he who hardens his heart falls into trouble. (NIV)
It was 4 a.m., and I was driving through the depth of darkness toward my place of employment. I enjoyed my job, but as I motored along, I suddenly realized how indifferent and hardened my heart was becoming in regards to those whom I worked with. They were people who had major problems in their lives, mainly due to the wrong choices that they had repeatedly made, people on the wrong side of the law. Over and over again, the same old scenario. Will they never smarten up? I pondered. What's wrong with these people? Do they not realize how foolish and annoying they are? Why can't they get their act together for everyone's sake?
Judgemental, unkind, and critical remarks continued within my mind, thoughts that I could feel were putting a scowl upon my countenance just thinking them. How has this happened? I wondered. When did I come to this within my heart regarding these struggling souls? And how do I change my heart back again to one of compassion, empathy, forgiveness, and mercy? Quiet words within my mind answered my question: By taking every thought captive to Christ; by confessing your sin and finding the mercy of forgiveness in Christ, something I did immediately after my shift began.
I openly and honestly shared this dilemma of my heart and mind with God. I quietly asked for His forgiveness and a renewal and softening of my heart and attitude toward those who had not yet found their way to Him, the Saviour of mankind. For once upon a time, I, too, was firmly mired in sin, hopeless and blind, without even realizing it.
God answered my prayerful honesty with His unending mercy and love. My heart immediately began to feel differently within me, softened and warm. My thoughts changed from the hardness of judgemental criticism and disdain back into the heart of a caregiver of Jesus Christ, one full of compassion and empathy for the lost, who, just like me, are the beloved of God whom Christ died for so willingly.
Prayer: Father God, how easy it is for our hearts to fall into the trouble of sin through judgemental and critical thoughts and attitudes toward others — a situation which never prospers anyone. Forgive us this trespass, dear Lord, and reveal anew within us the mercy and goodness which was and is ours through forgiveness in Christ. Renew us this day, that we, in turn, might forgive and love others in such a way that the light of Your salvation may show them the way to the cross, eternal life, and inner transformation. In Christ's name, we pray. Amen.