Practical Forgiveness

22 “But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. 23 Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; 24 Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift. 25 Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison. 26 Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing.” (Matthew 5:22-26)

You can learn a lot from children, and how they interact with one another. Take, for example, my 5 year old son Daniel (Jr.). The other day, his 3 year old sister came up to me with an arts and crafts book, and said to me, “daddy, I don’t like this cat in this book!” Now this book had previously been filled with a few other “pictures” that were not very glorifying to God (a picture of a witch at Hallowe’en, and others). We had simply torn them out, until the book contained stuff that we felt was honouring to God. In that same vein, as it were, I responded to my daughter by saying, “Well, if you don’t like the cat, feel free to throw it out” (the whole book, that is). You see, I was also thinking of the fact that cats are sometimes used as a satanic symbol. If the book was a bother, why not throw it out? Anyway, it had been given to us. It didn’t mean that much to me. So, I said, “Feel free to throw the book out, Elizabeth.” That made sense to me.

But not to my son Daniel. To him, the thought of throwing the book out made no sense at all! And he started to complain. My daughter, however, oblivious to his complaints, proceeded to tear that particular page right out of the book (as opposed to throwing it out entirely)! My son became very emotional and upset. Soon, he was whinning incredibly. I had not realized that that very morning he had also been using the picture of the cat as a template in an arts and crafts item that he was trying to make. So, you see, that particular page was a real “no-no” to cut out — the very page that during that morning he was working on! My son became upset! It turns out that my son, inside of his spirit (if you will), was quite literally unable to “release” (or “forgive”, if you will) his sister from having done what she had done, until one very important thing was established: he needed to see the torn out page restored into the book (which was done). Thank God it wasn’t torn that much.

I had been saying to him, “Daniel, tell Elizabeth you forgive her.” I tried to get them to kiss each other (on the nose). Elizabeth had no problem. She would go up to him and say, “Daniel, I forgive you!” kissing him right smack on the nose! But Daniel, on his part, found this same task very difficult. What he needed, then, was an aid to being able to forgive his sister. That aid turned out to be seeing that page restored to the book itself. It was really that simple. At that point, things changed dramatically, and when I said, “Daniel, do you forgive Elizabeth for what she did?” he responded freely by saying, “I forgive her.” He even kissed her on the nose without problem, and the case was settled — really. Fellowship between brother and sister was restored — and an Esau and Jacob scenario was again averted (read up on Esau and Jacob and find out what happened as a result of unforgiveness between them!).

In fact, my restoring that page to that book was really a “confession” on my part that I had done wrong — that I had acted too quickly in telling his sister that she could throw out the book. That “confession” (seeing the page restored) was what my son needed to see before he was able to release his sister, whom he perceived as being the primary instigator of the situation. Let’s now apply this situation in a practical manner. Who do you know is bearing a grudge against you for something you have done? What practical thing could you do to help that person to overcome their unforgiveness towards you and “release” you from the debt that they are holding against you? How now could you help them? What practical thing can you do? Will you do? Many a person has held on to a grudge for too long. If today we are in a position to help them overcome their situation, let’s do it. For the Lord has said, “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.” (Matthew 5:9)