The hurt cut deep. After all it was his nephew.
Emmanuel* was on the wrong road. Though raised in a Christian family, he decided to take a detour down a dead end road. Drugs cost him a place to stay when his parents discovered he was using at home. His uncle seemed his only hope, but he quickly messed that up too. While they were away, he stole a priceless family heirloom and a gun and hocked them both for drug money. Uncle Jamie* discovered the missing shotgun which started a search to see if other items were missing. And they were.
When confronted, Emmanuel was in no mood to talk and immediately denied the thefts. Jamie had no choice. He was his nephew but he was untrustworthy. So he did what Emmanuel’s parents did-put him out.
Jamie could have reported the theft and made his nephew pay. Perhaps even had him jailed. He chose to suffer the loss, forgive and maintain the relationship-although from a guarded post.
John ties love of God and forgiveness together: If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. (I John 4:20)
Some propose the ability to love God and withhold forgiveness. I’ve tried it several times and known numerous others who have too. Some convincing themselves they have succeeded in doing the impossible. Others not aware they are even trying.
True love is only comprehended by understanding God’s forgiveness. When I comprehend my sin’s offense against God and realize his willingness to forgive completely and permanently, it becomes impossible to withhold from others what God has unconditionally given. Forgiving others enables me to see God’s face in them as Jacob did in his brother Esau’s. When I forgive-whether people deserve it or not, I learn to appreciate God’s forgiveness.
Instant and continual forgiveness heals relationships-with others and God.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, guide us to those we need to forgive.
*Names changed to protect privacy.
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