For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. Matthew 6:14
It was John Calvin who said, “A happy life depends on a good conscience.” And another unknown sage once declared that a good conscience is like a “soft pillow”—the key to a peaceful night’s sleep. It is no wonder that a good conscience is so highly valued; “good conscience” appears six times in the New Testament as something to be maintained.
One of the ways we maintain a good conscience is by settling things quickly between ourselves and others. As long as matters are unsettled—as long as we withhold mercy and forgiveness toward others—things cannot be settled between us and God. Regardless of who is at fault, whether ourselves or another, “If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men” (Romans 12:18). Whether someone has something against us or we have something against another, we should settle the matter quickly (Matthew 5:23-26; 18:15). When we extend mercy to others, God continues to extend mercy to us.
Are there matters to be settled between you and another? Take steps to make things right today. Then look forward to a “soft pillow” tonight.
Peace of conscience is nothing but the echo of pardoning mercy. William Gurnall
John Piper sermon: Our Deepest Prayer Hallowed Be Your Name
These trials will show that your faith is genuine. 1 Peter 1:7 nlt
Twenty-four–karat gold is nearly 100 percent gold with few impurities. But that percentage is difficult to achieve. Refiners most commonly use one of two methods for the purification process. The Miller process is the quickest and least expensive, but the resulting gold is only about 99.95 percent pure. The Wohlwill process takes a little more time and costs more, but the gold produced is 99.99 percent pure.
In Bible times, refiners used fire as a gold purifier. Fire caused impurities to rise to the surface for easier removal. In his first letter to believers in Jesus throughout Asia Minor (northern Turkey), the apostle Peter used the gold-refining process as a metaphor for the way trials work in the life of a believer. At that time, many believers were being persecuted by the Romans for their faith in Christ. Peter knew what that was like firsthand. But persecution, Peter explained, brings out the “genuineness of [our] faith” (1 Peter 1:7).
Perhaps you feel like you’re in a refiner’s fire—feeling the heat of setbacks, illness, or other challenges. But hardship is often the process by which God purifies the gold of our faith. In our pain we might beg God to quickly end the process, but He knows what’s best for us, even when life hurts. Keep connected to the Savior, seeking His comfort and peace.
Reflect & Pray
What challenges have you faced that led to your growth? How did you respond to them?
Father God, help me see how the trials of my life bring out the gold in me.
A life of strong faith doesn’t happen automatically or without any effort on our part. Although we are not saved by our own endeavors, spiritual growth requires the appropriation of all the means God has provided to help us walk faithfully with Him. We should …
• Learn from the lives of past heroes of the faith, like those we read about yesterday in Hebrews 11. Knowing that others have faithfully navigated the stormy seas of life encourages us to persevere as well.
• Rid ourselves of any habitual sins or other burdens that hinder us from wholehearted devotion and obedience to the Lord.
• Focus on Jesus, not on ourselves or our desires.
Christ has gone before us to model how to live faithfully, no matter how difficult the circumstances. He demonstrated perfect trust, always doing exactly what His Father commanded—even going to the cross. Jesus endured shame and suffering by focusing on the joy that would be His in the completed redemption of a people for God’s glory.
Are you looking to Christ for the strength and perspective needed to run life’s race with faith-filled endurance?
“Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.” (Matthew 11:28-29)
There are many types of burdens we may try to carry. Consider the burdens of sorrow, pain, grief, fear, worry, and— above all—sin that plague us. In today’s text, Christ promises hope for the “heavy laden” if we will but come to Him and accept His gracious offer of salvation and cleansing. He will either remove the burden, lighten it, or give us strength to bear it, whichever is best. His offer of rest includes inward peace even in times of trouble here, and perfect peace hereafter.
It may sound paradoxical, but we can actually lighten our load by taking up His “yoke.” “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Matthew 16:24). In our text, Christ said we are to learn of Him, thus emulating His meekness and lowliness in heart as we carry our cross. If we accept His yoke in humility because of our love for Him, we can endure every hardship and bear every burden with hope and patience.
Even though we are children of the King, we still have work to do. It has always been so, for even sinless Adam and Eve were responsible for tending the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:15). God knew that idleness and lack of responsibility were improper. Likewise, in the future we will have responsibilities given to us according to the handling of our responsibilities in this life (Matthew 25:21). We may be coregents of the kingdom (Revelation 20:6), but we will still have our responsibilities.
The burdens He gives us now are not oppressive, but with His help, and with the proper attitude, His yoke is easy and His burden is light. It is a “rest” to work for Him. JDM