Forgive

Dr. Ray Pritchard
Dr. Ray Pritchard

“Love covers a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8).

Christmas can be the hardest season of the year.

Sometimes we find ourselves a long way from home, and we wish we could be with our family and friends. But sometimes the distance is on the inside because we struggle with feelings of anger and bitterness.

What do we do then?

Every time someone wrongs me, I have two choices. I can deal with it, forgive it, cover it and move on, or I can drag that person through the mud and stir up all kinds of dissension.

Love refuses to wash its dirty laundry in public. Love handles it privately, it goes out of its way to veil sin, to treat it discreetly. It is the opposite of hatred that exposes weakness and humiliates someone else. Love deals with sin publicly only as a last resort.

Corrie ten Boom tells of some Christian friends who wronged her in a public and malicious way. For many days, she was bitter and angry until she forgave them. But at night she would wake up thinking about what they had done, and she would get angry all over again. It seemed the memory would never go away.

Help came from her Lutheran pastor to whom she confessed her frustration after two sleepless weeks. He told her, “Corrie, up in the church tower is a bell which is rung by pulling on a rope. When the sexton pulls the rope, the bells peal out—ding-dong, ding-dong, ding-dong. When he stops pulling on the rope, the sound slowly fades away. Forgiveness is like that. When we forgive someone, we take our hand off the ropeBut if we’ve been tugging at our grievances for a long time, we mustn’t be surprised if the old angry thoughts keep coming for a while. They are the ding-dongs of the old bell slowing down.”

It’s not surprising if, after forgiveness, the memories keep coming back for a while. If you refuse to dwell on them, slowly they will fade away. When you forgive, you let go of the rope, and the force is gone out of your anger.

“Call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins (Matthew 1:21). The great good news of Christmas is that Jesus came to set us free from our sins.

Is there anyone you need to forgive?
Have you been holding on to your anger?
Are you ready to forgive as Jesus forgave you?

Jesus was a forgiving man who came to create a race of forgiving men and women.

Go and do for others what he did for you.

 Lord Jesus, give me grace to be slow to anger and quick to forgive today. Amen.

Musical bonus: Many people don’t know the Wexford Carol even though it has been around for a long time. This haunting Irish melody calls the listener to “consider well what God has done in sending us his beloved Son.” Let’s listen to the Wexford Carol by Alison Krauss accompanied by Yo-Yo Ma.

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Originally published December 14, 2017.

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