We must learn to forgive the little things too

Published 6:00 am Friday, September 18, 2020

This pandemic has changed many things about our lives, but one thing it hasn’t altered is the need for forgiveness in human relationships.

As we spend more time in close proximity to one another at home, we may need the healing power of forgiveness more than ever. Are your children’s remote-learning needs taxing your store of patience? Is your spouse working from home, and you suddenly find that they’ve claimed your favorite chair, or they always need you to be quiet and you can’t help if it the dog barks all the time, and you find yourself pining for the days when they went to work every morning?

As Elsa so famously sang in “Frozen,” – “Let it go! Let it gooooooo….!” Let the little things slide. Forgiving the little things gives us training in forgiving the bigger things – the hurts, slights or even the intentional abuse that has come our way. Not forgiving imprisons us in a prison of our own making. We must learn to forgive, even if the one being forgiven isn’t deserving of it.

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Jesus spoke often of the need to forgive. He placed “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us” right in the middle of the model prayer he taught us. He practiced forgiveness in his earthly life – can you imagine Jesus holding a grudge? And he asked his Father to forgive even those who had crucified him, “for they do not know what they are doing.” His mercy is our model.

Once in the Gospel of Matthew, the disciple Peter is in need of a number. He asks Jesus, “Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?” Peter thought he was being super-generous in suggesting seven times, but Jesus came back at him with another number – he said, “Not seven times, but, I tell you, 77 times.” That is to say, forgive infinitely, Peter. Don’t count your mercies.

I once saw forgiveness in action in a way that I will never forget. Many years ago, my parents’ marriage ended due to infidelity on the part of my father. As you might imagine, there was a lot of distance between my mother and the woman my father left her to marry. But thanks to the healing power of the Holy Spirit, my mother and my stepmother were reconciled, about 30 years after the fact, one beautiful afternoon when we had all gathered to give my father’s ashes to the Kentucky hillside he loved. I’ll never forget that moment.

Struggling with forgiveness? Ask God for help. Help will come, and you will know true freedom.

REV. SUSIE THOMAS is lead pastor of Farmville United Methodist Church. Her email address is sthomas@farmvilleumc.org.