Theme of the Week: Forgiveness is Freedom
Bible Verse: Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:31-32
Scripture Reading: Matthew 18:21-35
Like many kids, I was bullied a bit in school. There was one guy, particularly big and mean, who I’ll call Steve. Steve bullied everyone simply because he could. Most of the time, I avoided his violence. But one day his sights settled on me. He humiliated me in the boys’ change room in front of the rest of the guys in Phys Ed class.
I hated him for that. I wanted only evil for him.
I knew that Jesus wanted me to forgive him, but I didn’t want to. I didn’t want to let him get away with his behaviour. I wanted him to suffer.
Forgiveness means taking a loss. If you take five dollars from me and then return it, there’s nothing for me to forgive; forgiveness is only necessary if the money isn’t returned. Forgiveness costs. Jesus understood that. That’s a hard reality to accept. When we finally learn that and are willing to take that loss, we can be set free.
One day, the class was out playing football and Steve was being as cruel as ever. On one play, he fell on his collar bone, and we all heard the snap. He grabbed his shoulder and started making his way to the office.
Immediately, I felt Jesus asking me to go and help him. I didn’t want to. I didn’t want to offer kindness when he only offered malice. Yet, Christ’s compelling overtook my desire for revenge.
I raced after him and asked if I could drive him up to the hospital. I even asked if I could pray for him. He let me, on both accounts.
We became friends. And if he bullied some other kid while I was around, I would shake my head, and he would leave the kid alone. Maybe I was the first person who really showed kindness to him. I was willing to take the loss, and it turned into great gain.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, help me be willing to take a loss in pursuit of forgiveness. You took a loss so that I could be forgiven, and I want to be just like You. Remind me of Your boundless resources. Remind me that I am Your child and heir. Remind me that when I forgive, You bless. Amen.
Reflection: Who is indebted to you today? Who owes you an apology? Will you, right now, forgive them whether or not they ever apologize? Will you take a loss for them based on Christ’s forgiveness of you?
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