In our family, we have two tiny chihuahuas. I know… not the most manly dogs for a family with 4 men and only 2 women, but we love them anyway. How can you not love those two sweet little faces? Just see the photo above and you’ll know what we mean.
This morning, our two precious angels got into a dog fight. This is somewhat normal for them since Lucy (the white one) thinks that she is the boss of Barley (the tan one). But it was a bit more extreme today. There was gnarling and gnashing sprinkled with high pitched screaming. It lasted much longer than it ever has. In fact, it didn’t resolve after a few seconds so we felt like we needed to intervene before they hurt themselves.
About 15 minutes later, I walked by their doggy bed and noticed that the two of them were snuggled up, fast asleep, as if they were best friends and hadn’t just tried to rip each other’s throats out. I laughed to myself and thought if only we all made up so easily.
Forgiveness is one of the greatest struggles of humanity.
The Bible tells us time and time again that we should forgive quickly, that we should forgive repeatedly, and that we should forgive without remembrance. God knew that this would be difficult for us, therefore He spoke about it often. You see, unlike these little dogs, God has given us complex feelings and emotions that tear at our flesh. On one hand, these emotions can cause us to lash out and cause physical or emotional harm to those around us. On the other hand, we are on the receiving end of the pain and we suffer greatly.
The problem comes when we expect others to forgive us quickly and to accept the excuses we give them, yet we do not accept the excuses of those who have hurt us. We want others to know how deeply they hurt us, and seek some justice for our pain. However, when we offend, we get wrapped up in making excuses for our behavior, rather than asking to be forgiven.
Colossians 3:13 says,
Bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.
As C.S. Lewis states in The Weight of Glory, “To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable, because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.”
It is amazing to me that I can more easily forgive people who have hurt me deeply through betrayal or even physical abuse, yet it is a struggle to forgive the minute offenses that occur daily – and in some cases repeatedly throughout the day! How can we do this? How can you forgive you spouse for saying a disrespectful or unloving thing to you? How can you guard your heart and not let the hurts build up into a wall that shuts out the world from your love? How can we bear it day after day after day?
Matthew 6:14-15 says:
For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
God always means what He says. He means for us to forgive because He has forgiven us. If we do not show mercy to those around us, will God show us mercy when we seek it?
The next time you find yourself in a “dog fight”, remember how quickly God will forgive you if only you ask Him. Turn your thoughts from yourself, and eagerly listen to the excuses you are given. Extend grace, love, and mercy to all around you; even if they are 99% to blame. You will find your heart is in a much better place, and your life will be far more peaceful.
Scriptures for Meditation
“For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” – Matthew 6:14-15
“Bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.” – Colossians 3:13
“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.” – James 1:19-20