Family, Friends, and Forgiveness

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On any given day, things happen that defy understanding. They take form in many ways, from bullying to murder, suicide to child abuse. And we wonder, "Why do these things happen?"

They don't take place in a vacuum. Although we don't immediately perceive why something happens, or make rash judgments about its cause, it is certain there are underlying issues.

This is our general assumption, "they have issues," whatever that may or may not mean. Yet, the underlying issues have a history, they didn't just happen randomly. They stem from how we treat one another.

Scripture

Better a bite of dry bread [eaten] in peace than a family feast filled with strife. A wise slave will become master over a son who acts shamefully, and he will share the inheritance with the brothers. The crucible is for refining silver and the smelter for gold, but the one who purifies hearts [by fire] is the LORD. [vss 1-3]

Whoever makes fun of a poor person insults his maker. Whoever is happy [to see someone’s] distress will not escape punishment. Grandchildren are the crown of grandparents, and parents are the glory of their children. [vss 5-6]

Whoever forgives an offense seeks love, but whoever keeps bringing up the issue separates the closest of friends. Whoever pays back evil for good— evil will never leave his home. Starting a quarrel is [like] opening a floodgate, so stop before the argument gets out of control. [vss 9, 13-14]

A friend always loves, and a brother is born to share trouble. The parent of a fool has grief, and the father of a godless fool has no joy. A foolish son is a heartache to his father and bitter grief to his mother. To punish an innocent person is not good. To strike down noble people is not right.  [vss 17, 21, 25-26]

(‭Proverbs‬ ‭17‬:‭1-3, 5-6, 9, 13-14, 17, 21, 25-26‬ GW) [Context– Proverbs 17]

Key phrase— Whoever forgives an offense seeks love

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Digging Deeper...

What are the contrasting reversals seen in these verses? 

What are the encouraging things expressed in these proverbs?

What positive exhortations are given? How are they helpful in relationships with others?

Why is forgiveness so valuable in our relationships with others?

Reflection...

Tests and trials in life are common to all of us. How we deal with them is a constant variable. If we internalize lessons learned, we benefit from them. But, when we react to them as if they're personal attacks, our life can spiral into self-absorbed, self-destructive actions.

Even the most grievous wrongs can be forgiven. My wife and I have seen this over and over again, while working with abused girls. Forgiveness brings freedom from resentment and the control of what others have done to us.

Often, we have a choice in how we handle every day conversations and disagreements. This is where character development is crucial. Are we willing to allow God to purify our hearts and motives? If not, we will likely fall into self-justifying and self-defensive measures. These will not prevent, nor resolve conflicts, but aggravate them. The choice is ours.

Make it personal...

Read through the Scripture text again to consider and answer the following questions

How have you handled injustices and wrongs in life?

In what way have you contributed to conflicts you've experienced in life?

When have you seen forgiveness and kindness bring change in relationships?

Who in your life needs a kind and encouraging word from you?