3Watch yourselves! If your brother or sister sins, warn them to stop. If they change their hearts and lives, forgive them. 4Even if someone sins against you seven times in one day and returns to you seven times and says, ‘I am changing my ways,’ you must forgive that person.”
This devotional is dedicated to my mother who sometimes had to put up with a real brood.
I have several brothers and sisters, in fact, two of each. The first four of us are pretty close in age and I recall enjoying playing together as kids, but there were also some times that things ended in arguments. I think we provided the classic example of the battle of the sexes, with my twin and I going against our little brothers. Sometimes when our parents told us to “Stop,” the scene ended with such protests as: “But she/he started it!” or “I’m not going to apologize, until they apologize, first!” Today my siblings and I get along and I chuckle at our younger cattiness.
However, listen to any group of school children playing a game on the playground and you may find that they are also keenly aware of score keeping. Often they know when things are unfair or when someone has been wronged. But children need to learn the graceful art of offering forgiveness, and as a counselor — I think I am qualified to say this –most adults do too! Because when we are focusing on all the ways we’ve been wronged, then true forgiveness is in short supply.
Whether it is our sisters and brothers in Christ or our actual siblings, how many ways does our Lord caution us against score-keeping?
All we can really do is learn the graceful art of forgiveness. Because in the end, we can never do enough to “even the score” for all that God has done for us. Fortunately God doesn’t count our own forgiveness this way. When we forgive, it not only helps heal our relationships with others, it also reconciles our hearts to God.
by Barbara Carlson
For Pondering & Prayer
Our Lord does not “keep score” to forgive us. Instead Our Lord forgave the world despite being tortured and put to death. We really can’t repay all that God has done. All we can really do is learn to forgive others, because this is the grace that comes back to heal our own hearts. How has forgiveness played out in your life?
Dear Lord, please help me use forgiveness first whenever I struggle in my relationship with others. Amen.