I am writing to you who are God’s children because your sins have been forgiven through Jesus.
I John 2:21
Today a group of friends were playing basketball as they do every morning. And, as sometimes happens, words were spoken that could have divided not only the team, but friendships, as well. I ended the game and allowed tempers to cool and then began the work of peace-making. Most of the words were spoken to or about one boy, a boy they have all enjoyed, a boy who was reduced to tears over their behavior. I reminded them that the one thing I value most when they play a group game is respect. Respect for themselves, for others, for me and for the equipment. That didn’t soften any hearts. The glares continued and the arms remained crossed and the wounded boy was still alone.
I reminded them that the filter we run something through is: would I like it if someone did that to me? And if the answer is no, then don’t do it. That didn’t soften any hearts either.
Then I reminded them one at a time, that they were friends, good friends, and like it or not, sometimes friends don’t always act right towards us. But we forgive. Well, that didn’t soften any hearts either.
Then I asked a simple question: have you ever treated a friend unkindly? Have you ever said or done something to a friend you later regretted? I could see the hearts softening, see the glares subsiding, see the arms dropping down beside them. One by one, they started looking at the boy they had hurt.
My last question: what do you think you should do now? Without hesitation, they went to the offended boy and offered sincere apologies and reassured him that they wanted his friendship. Forgiveness offered. Then the boy smiled and joined his friends. Forgiveness received.
Forgiveness, heart-felt, sincere forgiveness is such an amazing gift. One we can give or receive. One we can reject or withhold. One that was freely given to us when we didn’t deserve it at all. I wear a bracelet that has the word FORGIVEN on it. When I put it on in the morning and take it off in the evening, it serves to remind me that as I have been forgiven, I should forgive. That’s a reminder I need.
I saw forgiveness work its magic this morning in these boy’s lives. And it was magic. It brought healing and restoration. And it can do that work in your life as well. But only if it is received and given. Freely we receive, freely give. Easier said than done, but what a healing power it brings.
From the beginning, from the very first moment a sin entered to divide You from Your children and Your children from each other, Father, You understood the power of forgiveness, You knew how much we would need forgiveness and You also knew what it would cost You. But You gave anyway. You gave us Jesus to pay what we couldn’t, to settle the debt against us so we could freely receive the forgiveness You offer. More than just saying thank You, could I show my gratitude by freely passing on what You so freely gave me? Forgiveness. I need Your help to do that; I can’t do it on my own. Show me where I am withholding forgiveness and soften my heart that I may freely offer it , in Jesus’ name. Amen.
picture credit: greatergood.Berkley.edu