Saturday, February 23, 2013

The Liberating Power of Grace and Forgiveness

Honour thy father and thy mother, as the Lord thy God hath commanded thee; that thy days may be prolonged, and that it may go well with thee, in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.  –Deuteronomy 5:16

My wife and I were talking during dinner the other night, and the conversation turned to the complexities of families.  This will sound familiar, because I wrote about families in my last blog.  I was reminded of three people I know personally who attend our church and have for many years.  These people are siblings and are very close.  When they were children their mother passed away.  Their father apparently decided he was unable to raise his children by himself.  He then sent them to live with various relatives who subsequently raised them in loving and nurturing homes.

This all took place many years ago in a time where social services and the court system simply did not always get involved in such situations.  Today, if someone tried to do this, social services would be involved as well as child protection services and the courts would decide where the children would live.  In today’s world this is for the best.  However, this was many years ago and in those days the legal system did not always get involved. 

As the years passed by the sibling grew older and kept in touch with one another.  Later, when they became adults, they remained close and stayed connected.  Now, here is the part of the story which further intrigues me.  At one point the siblings, now grown with families of their own, discovered their father, who had abandoned them as children, was dying and had no one to care for him.  Many people would have taken an attitude of, “I want nothing to do with him.  He abandoned us, so let him die alone.”  However, these people refused such an attitude and chose instead to practice grace.  They went to their father, and in a wonderful display of compassion and forgiveness, lovingly cared for him until he died.

Every time I think of this, I am amazed at the power of grace functioning in peoples’ lives.  Harboring grudges, refusing to forgive, and carrying hatred in our hearts burdens us and weighs us down.  Hatred and an unforgiving spirit will always hinder the joy and peace meant to be ours in Jesus Christ.  On the other hand, practicing the grace of God which Christ brings, releases us from the burden of hatred and empowers us to walk in the fullness of Christ.  The aforementioned people honored their father whether he deserved it or not, which is a living testimony of faith – the kind of faith Jesus taught us.  They also lived out a faith principle of practicing grace as opposed to being chained in hatred.

Cast off the burden of hatred and an unforgiving spirit, and with God’s help discover the joy of walking in the power of grace.

God bless you today.