I worshiped with two congregations in south-central Kansas today. I was privileged to speak to both about Manuelito Navajo Children's Home. This morning, I was with the McPherson, Kansas church. Tonight, I was with the Haven, Kansas church.
My good friend, Lance Morrisett, is the preacher at Haven. It was good to be with Lance, Jennifer and Cullen. I had not seen Lance and Jennifer in nearly 5 years. We met 10 years ago in Childress, when I was preaching for the Fairview Church of Christ (my first preaching stop) and Lance was the youth minister for th eChildress Church of Christ. Those were good times.
This morning, while at McPherson, I enjoyed sitting in a Bible class with Glen Elliott, the preacher at McPherson. Glen's subject was forgiveness. He offered a test of forgiveness that I found worth sharing. To paraphrase, this is the gist of Glen's challenge: You say you've forgiven the person that has hurt you, but has your behavior toward that person changed? Do you still respond to him or her like you have a grudge toward them, or have you allowed the relationship to enter a new day. Are you happy when the other person meets some adversity or hardship, considering such things as just payback? Or, do you wish good things for the person?
We have all been hurt at various times in life. It is a very human thing to want to strike out and wound the person who has wounded us. But, we are called to forgive; to do as Jesus did . . . to love those who hurt us, and seek not to harm in return, but to forgive . . . to not be bitter, but to find a place of peace in the relationship once more.
It is not enough to say, "I forgive you," but continue to alienate the other person is wrong; to wish that they would meet with some unfortunate circumstance is hateful; to desire the worst for that person is sinful. When we forgive, a new day dawns . . . a new chapter in the relationship begins.