Complaining bitterly to my friend about a rude and bossy colleague at work, I exclaimed, “I’m going to give her the tongue-lashing she deserves!” But Jesus tells us to forgive 77 times (Matthew 18:21–22). How do we do that?
Think about a kettle of water on an open fire. Imagine the fire as the offensive actions of others, the kettle as you, and the water as your heart. When you are angry with someone and you choose to forgive, God pours out grace—like pouring chilled water on a fire. If every time the fire is lit, you ask God for help to forgive, the Spirit will pour out grace and put out the fire. That way, the water in the kettle will never boil.
If we depend on our own strength to forgive others, we may soon run out of patience with people. Instead, we can depend on God’s power to help us forgive, even when our patience wears thin.
STOP, BREATHE, PRAY: When bitterness and anger start building up inside, step back, take a deep breath, and say a prayer. You might discover that you were indeed wronged. But by taking time to get some perspective, you might find a way to respond with grace instead of lashing out in the heat of the moment. Angry words are easy to speak, but you can never get them back.
Bethany Acker [Plover, WI]