READ : Matthew 15:10-19
For out of the heart come evil thoughts. (v. 19)
Dr. Everett Worthington knows a lot about forgiveness in an intellectual way. He is
chair of the Psychology Department at Virginia Commonwealth University and has specialized
in the clinical study of forgiveness since 1990. Tragically, he was forced to confront the
process personally after his elderly mother was murdered in her own home. He describes his
intense anger as he imagined his gentle mother being bludgeoned to death. For all his
academic knowledge about how forgiveness works, hardness still gripped his heart.
Anger is a very human experience. Frederick Buechner writes, “Of the seven deadly sins,
anger is possibly the most fun. To lick your wounds, to smack your lips over grievances
long past . . . is a feast fit for a king.”
In the end, however, the roles change and anger begins to feast upon us. Our hearts
turn toxic. We become emotionally displaced, physically agitated, and relationally
strained. Our anger hardens into bitterness, resentment, and cynicism.
Jesus knows that out of the heart come evil thoughts and actions. Only he can change
the heart. Follow me, he says, and I will give you the power to forgive. Only there, in
the depths of the heart, can forgiveness be genuinely received and extended back into a
world that is desperately waiting to be loved and forgiven.
“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.”