Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – May 10, 2017
Then the king was filled with pity for him and released him and forgave his debt. Matthew 18: 27, The Living Bible
When someone withholds something: the courtesy to acknowledge my email, text, call—or an apology, compliment or answer to my question, I feel anxious. Disappointment marshals an angry reaction to the edge of my lips and my thoughts obsess over feeling owed a response. Yet, Jesus describes an all-powerful King who rises above petty self-focused emotions and with the respect worthy of royalty, he cares for a commoner—the monarch extends compassion, freedom, and forgiveness to an undeserving debtor servant. With reason to punish—he forgave instead.
Why should we offer compassion instead of getting even, freedom instead of bondage and no record of wrongs, instead of holding a list of hurts over our offender’s head? Because our heavenly Father calls us to forgive, as He has forgiven us: fully and forever. If we don’t forgive we chose to be controlled by the actions of someone we can’t control. To not forgive ignores a melanoma of mind, body, and emotions—cancerous resentment eats away our joy and starves our peace. Wisdom in life leans into forgiveness to bring healing to our relational health.
“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32).
Compassion looks a person in the eyes and wonders what they have experienced. Abused? Abandoned? Lost? Hurt? Rejected? Forgotten? Perhaps they suffered great loss from the death of a child, parent or sibling. Maybe they lashed out in anger because they were the brunt of another’s bitterness. Fear may have captured their consciences when they sadly embraced lies about themselves and others. Compassion does not justify bad behavior but looks for reasons why.
One childhood adventure I enjoyed was visiting my grandmother’s brother’s country home which overlooked a large pond teeming with hungry fish. I learned how to bait a hook, wet a hook and very carefully remove a bream or bass off a hook. Today, I relax and smile reflecting on those lazy summer days. My biggest highlight was an hour before sunset, under the canopy of a brilliant blue sky, buffered by cattails on the far end of my outdoor sanctuary, serenaded by a chorus of bullfrogs—the warm up band for the Lord’s main performance of a star-studded sky.
When I could no longer see my cork bobbing in the water, I retreated back to the house. My great uncle was a bachelor. The main floor of his modest ranch home smelled dingy with a hint of plastic which covered his living room furniture. In the kitchen, a narrow door led to a scary cellar where my uncle would go after I went to bed to drink his adult beverages, and drink and drink—yes way too much. One day I snuck downstairs to the dim, damp, cold, concrete block dungeon-like man cave. It was a mess—empty beer cans, liquor bottles and nauseous body odor. Afraid, I ran out never to tarry there again. I did return to fish and inhale God’s majestic creation.
The depressing dark cellar reminded me symbolically of how I mentally and emotionally place people in the unmerciful part of my heart and lock them up to punish and forget about. Thankfully, the Holy Spirit relentlessly convicts me to truly forgive. Which means I unlock the door leading to the dark place of my soul, I go down the steps, unshackle my offender, look them compassionately in eyes, lead them up the stairs into the light of the main floor of my life. With a tone of genuineness and gentleness, I clearly say, “Dad, I forgive you for abandoning me and I want to have a healthy, growing relationship with you”. God’s grace dissects the dense complicated hurt from deep within my thoughts and emotions, allowing me to embrace my earthly father with mercy and love.
Who is locked up in the cellar of your soul that you can release, confront and forgive? Wisdom in life does not allow hurt from the past to drive demanding, detrimental behavior in the present. Forgiveness sets us and our offenders free to freely love and serve others in Jesus’ name.
“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you” (Colossians 3:13).
PrayerHeavenly Father, help me see people with the compassion of Christ and forgive them freely in Jesus’ name, amen.
ApplicationWhom do I need to release from my resentment, freeing them and myself from my un-forgiveness?
Related Reading2 Corinthians 6:5-7; Galatians 5:22-23; Ephesians 4:2; Colossians 3:12
Post/Tweet todayForgiving followers of Jesus compassionately confront their offender and forgive specific sins. #WisdomHunters #forgiveness
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