Who are you having trouble forgiving? Somebody has done you wrong, and he owes you! Somebody has hurt you and you want her to pay!
Then, this guy Paul, claiming to speak for God, comes along and says, “Forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another” (Colossians 3:13).
Forgive – that’s not so hard. It’s that “whatever grievances” that is a huge challenge. The nickel and dime offenses – those we can forgive fairly easily. Most of us forget those quickly. But some of those “whatever grievances” are not cheap. Some thug kills your kid, a burglar invades your home, your spouse abuses you or cheats on you, someone gets you fired – those are big ticket offenses. Hard to overlook. Costly to redeem.
Speaking of high prices, a bear walked into a bar, slapped a 20 dollar bill on the bar, and growled, “Get me a beer.”
The bartender was a bit shocked but saw a possibility for extra profit. He drew a beer, placed it on the bar, picked up the $20, and dropped $1 for change. “We don’t get many bears in here,” he said.
The bear looked at the beer, then at the $1, and said, “At 19 bucks a beer, I can see why!”
“Bear with each other” says the first part of the Scripture above. That’s hard when there’s much to bear. It’s even difficult when there are lots of the little offenses. It all adds up until we’ve reached our limit and we’re ready to break ties with the one who owes us.
How do we forgive? How can we bear with the unbearable? The only answer this Scripture provides is this short statement that is long on meaning, “Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”
Price is a matter of perspective. A $19 beer is pricey. (I know I need to explain that to all you church-going readers who are pretending that you don’t know what a beer costs.) But, if someone were giving you $1 million a day, would it be so hard to tip your server $19? “Forgive as the Lord forgave” is a reminder that, through Jesus, we’ve been given an unlimited, unending supply of forgiveness. Sharing a fraction of that with someone who owes us isn’t, by comparison, so much to ask.
Perhaps if we keep that in mind, regardless of the price, we’ll get more “bear-with- each- other” in here.
Keith Wishum is minister, Williams Road Church of Christ, Americus.
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