Scripture for Today: Ephesians 4:32 “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” (NASB)
Tenderizing meat is a wonderful way to work out frustrations! I can still remember my Mother whomping on a cut of meat with some scary mid-evil looking instrument. Pounding on a more affordable cut of meat will break down the muscle fibers that constrict when heated. If they are broken down beforehand they don’t tighten up but stay relaxed. The result is nice tender meat that seems to be a cut above the rest without breaking the bank!
Today’s verse tells us that we are kind and tender-hearted when we forgive. In theory we all like the idea of showing kindness and being tender towards another. But the most difficult part of showing this attitude is in forgiveness. Like the meat tenderizing process, we need to have what is tight and unbending be broken down. We stay relaxed and ready to forgive the hurt inflicted by a loved one when we take to heart God’s forgiveness towards us.
How is it that someone else’s sin against me is so much more grievous than my sin against God? Yet that must be my prideful conclusion when I withhold forgiveness. When this happens (and it happens more than I’d like to admit) I am likely to be disciplined through some intense “meat tenderizing.” The Lord wants me to be tender, forgiving and compassionate, regardless of the hurt, regardless of the injustice and regardless of the response. Yes, it’s hard, but He did it for me.
Scripture for Today: Colossians 3:12 “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”
After my Mother-in-law’s passing, I discovered a whole pile of her old gloves. Her tiny hands had enjoyed over the years the feel of leather, wool, and velvet. I would love for gloves to be back in fashion as they cover age spots, callouses and prominent veins! But the “velvet glove” hides something else entirely. This term refers to covering a strong and unyielding will or determination. The velvet represents a superficial gentleness masking what is underneath.
Today’s verse reminds believers to be clothed in what would signal to the world our identity as God’s own. The soft velvety characteristics are sincere. They appear when we bear with one another’s faults (verse 13). We are compassionate, kind, humble. gentle and patient with others when we are able to forgive. And that forgiveness is only possible when we realize what Christ had to do to forgive us! (verse 13)
My own will can be very strong. But I can easily mask it with an insincere show of gentleness and studied courtesy. However, the Lord sees my heart. Having the right spirit is something only His Spirit can accomplish in me. I need to allow His fingers to fill that glove and move me in the direction He wants. His way is so much better than my own and the submission He asks of me allows my love for others to be sincere.
Scripture for Today: Proverbs 19:11 “A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense.”
This beautiful flower comes in different shades of pink and red. But it is the white camellia that has special significance in the novel, “To Kill A Mockingbird.” Jem destroys the cantankerous Mrs. Dubose’s camellia bush after she insults his family. Later, after reading to her as a sort of penitence insisted on by his father, she dies. But not before presenting Jem with a box containing a white camellia. This beautiful flower is now seen as representing understanding and patience.
Today’s verse from Proverbs tells us that it is from wisdom and understanding that patience can come. Overlooking an offense is the result of that patience and understanding. And overlooking an offense done to one’s self is admirable, commendable and puts one in a good light! It is difficult and sometimes nearly impossible, but if done, it can be to our glory! It certainly is not to our glory to respond to that offense with bitterness and retaliation.
Just as Jem could get past the old lady’s meanness when understanding her addictions, I can be more gracious when understanding the struggles of the one who hurt me. Understanding their circumstances and frustrations can make me more patient. Understanding too how much the Lord has forgiven me helps me extend that same grace. But I do have trouble letting go of hurtful words and slights and it is inglorious! I need the help of His Spirit to truly forgive from the heart. He wants me to overlook it with grace and forgiveness. In doing so I am well viewed by others but more importantly, He is glorified!
Lord, make me wise enough to understand and show patience.
Scripture for Today: Galatians 5:15 “If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.”
Despite his name I would hate for the Tasmanian Devil to become extinct. His only natural habitat is the Australian island-state of Tasmania. Because of his husky snarl and bad temper, he often has what is called a “devilish expression.” Since 2008 he has been on the endangered list. The reason? A cancer called, “devil facial tumor disease,” which results in grotesque tumors around the head and mouth. It is thought to be transmitted when they bite each other!
Today’s verse teaches that the words from our mouths can inflict pain and even destroy another. Life and death are in the power of the tongue (Proverbs 18:21). So much of what displeases the Lord comes from the mouth, whether it be gossiping, lying, mocking, arguing, criticizing, ….the list goes on. And each of these has such a devastating effect on the one to whom it is directed. What is more, the “tit for tat” reciprocity only escalates the problem until both parties are destroyed.
It is only by His Spirit that I can love and forgive the one who has inadvertently or intentionally hurt me. My memory is long when it comes to hurtful words. But I have definitely taken things a step further when I want to retaliate. There might be a momentary feeling of satisfaction but the relationship remains tense and broken. Forgiveness is so difficult but without it, the relationship is “endangered” and at risk of extinction. Realizing God’s forgiveness for me helps me get a better perspective on the whole mess. And His love and His power are there to make forgiveness and restoration possible. It is just not possible on my own.
Thank you Lord, that You heal those difficult relationships.
(Look familiar? This is a repost from earlier this year)
Scripture for Today: Matthew 18: 21-22 “Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, ‘Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?’ Jesus answered, ‘I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.'”
It was pure guess work. I tried being methodical as a prize would be awarded for this baby shower-party-game. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have bothered trying to count the jelly beans in this jar. But in fact, my counting left something to be desired as my total was way off. Someone else walked away with the coveted prize. I would have been happy to walk away with the jelly beans!
Today’s verse is about something we are not to count; how many times to forgive someone. Peter perhaps felt he was being generous to suggest forgiving seven times as the current thinking among the Pharisees was three times. That makes Jesus’ answer all the more surprising. The idea was not to forgive seventy-seven times or even seventy times seven. The idea is that forgiveness is not to be counted at all. Forgiveness is to be immeasurable.
My memory is so faulty on some subjects but somehow, the memories of when and how I have been wronged are very clear. Forgiving someone more than once for the same offense is also too easy to remember. I have had to say to my husband, “I am sorry, forgive me,” countless times over more than 40 years of marriage. And I have had to forgive him too, many times without number. It is so difficult to “forgive from the heart” (verse 35) over and over again. And yet, I cannot think of a better way to show true love. This is exactly what the Lord has done in forgiving me countless times.