Be kind and compassionate to one another,
forgiving each other, just as in Christ God
Sometimes God sends us a valuable gift wrapped in an unattractive package. Forgiveness is one such gift. Let me explain.
Forgiveness becomes necessary only after an offense. Several words describe possible reactions to such an offense: bitterness, wrath, anger, slander, malice.
Bitterness comes from allowing resentment and unforgiveness to smolder—that fire that never quite catches but will not stop burning. On the other hand, wrath springs forth in rage—the passion of the moment that may use those ugly words that can never be retrieved. Anger can become that deep seeded hostility—like the taste of a medicine that lingers on and on and you want to spit it out but you cannot.
If we continue to live in unforgiveness, we may find it impossible to keep those feelings hidden. Slander and malice then join their friends bitterness, wrath and anger as the unattractive package of unforgiveness ties the bow and sits heavy in our heart.
What began as an unattractive package—an offense—becomes our own unattractive package that we inadvertently pass along to others. How do we stop the cycle? Easy! Well, maybe not easy—but possible. Forgive!
Ephesians 4:32 tells us to be kind, compassionate, forgive. How? The same way God forgave you and me through Jesus Christ His Son. When it comes to forgiveness, we must be proactive. We must decide to forgive. We must remember that most offenses that come our way are relatively small.
It is easy to be like the man in Matthew 18:21-35 who begged for patience to repay his own debt but was unwilling to grant the same favor to another. But if we want to be like Christ, unforgiveness is not an option! Oh, as much as I sometimes would like it to be an option, it is not! Like me, I am sure you have had times of unforgiveness in your heart? Ask God for help. Read His Word.
Then, give this a try: Sit down at the table, remove the package of unforgiveness from your heart, untie the bow, open the box and one by one relinquish bitterness, wrath, anger, slander, malice. Accept God’s valuable gift of forgiveness and offer it to others. Only as we give compassion and kindness can we be like Jesus.
Forgiveness may just be the mightiest tool in our arsenal when it comes to showing Jesus to the world!
© JP 2013