"Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you."
I love how the Lord can even use my dog to teach me great truth. I have a two-year-old Weimaraner who has captured my heart. An evening bike ride is one of our favorite things to do (well I ride he runs). Several months ago we were on one of our rides, as we passed by a house I noticed a lady standing in her front yard holding onto her dog. We got about a half a block away when her dog came flying out of nowhere and attacked Tahoe.
Now Tahoe is a lover not a fighter and as he was trying to get away from Cujo (not sure, but that might be his real name) his leash wrapped around the front of my bike and down I went. The lady finally caught her dog and dragged him back to her house. I checked Tahoe and myself for blood, picked up my bike and continued on our way.
I went from scared to fuming in about two seconds flat and for two blocks I had this dialog going on in my head, “I can’t believe that lady just let her dog go, she saw us riding by, she knows her dog is vicious and she just let him go, people like that should not have dogs...” I would have continued my rant if I hadn’t looked down to see Tahoe trotting along with a big smile on his face (oh yes he smiles). He had already forgiven the attack and was enjoying his run.
That is when I heard the Lord’s whisper to my heart “that is how quickly I want you to forgive.” 1 Corinthians 13 tells us “love keeps no record of wrong.” But let’s face it forgiveness is not always easy; like when your husbands says something that cuts, or you just can’t seem to please a critical parent, or a friend lets you down, the list goes on and on. If we are not careful these things can build up and make our hearts hard and bitter. Others have been hurt in deep, dark ways, that that are difficult to speak about and seem impossible to forgive.
In Matthew 18 Peter asked Jesus “how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him?” Essentially Jesus said unforgiveness is not an option and told the parable of the unforgiving servant who was thrown in prison to be tortured because he refused to extend the forgiveness he received to a fellow servant. Jesus is very clear in his command to forgive.
To paraphrase St. Augustine “Our Lord never commands what he does not also provide”. So how do we forgive?
Colossians 3:13 says "Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you." The key to forgiveness is to remember that we are forgiven.
His forgiveness is not based on our merit, there is not a single thing we can do to earn it, and we do not deserve it. Our sin and rebellion against the Holy, Righteous, Loving Almighty Creator of the universe pales in comparison to any sin that is committed against us Yet, through the blood of Jesus the Lord forgives us. When we allow the joy of that truth to penetrate our hearts it gives us the freedom and desire to do the same for the people in our lives.
Everything the Lord commands us to do is for His glory and our good. When we forgive we reflect His glory, we display a glimpse of what God’s forgiveness looks like. Forgiveness is also for our good; it sets us free from the prison of bitterness, anger and hatred and allows us to live the joy filled abundant life the Lord desires for us.
My precious husband, Bill, and I have been planted in Fort Myers, Florida for almost 35 years. As a newly married couple, God most graciously had placed people in both of our jobs to share Christ with us. Its hard to believe it has been almost 34 years since we asked Jesus into our hearts! Bill and I have been blessed with four children, 3 daughters, then a son. These blessings came quickly, all within 6 years!! During these years I'm so thankful I was able to be part of women's ministry classes at our church, helping me to grow in my walk with Him. Then came the day when I was asked that question that stretched me way outside of my comfort zone...will you teach a class? Its hard to believe that I have now been teaching more than 20 years. Bill and I love to travel, most of the time going to visit our 9 grandchildren, oh ya, and their parents! I also love reading, walking and hanging out with some very special young moms in Beloved that bless my socks off!
Julie is a Kansas girl who resides in sunny Southwest Florida. She's been married to her husband Sean for 23 years and they share two boys ages 21 & 17. She enjoys baking and biking, but her absolute favorite thing is snow skiing which is a little difficult to do in a sandy 80 degree land.
She became a follower of Christ at age 10. She loves studying and teaching God's Word. She has a passion for encouraging moms to love and follow Jesus.
Beth grew up in a loving home; however, in her early 20s she faced a very lonely time. During that time, she cried out to God and asked “If You are real, please show yourself to me!” God met her where she was and she trusted in the Lord Jesus at that time. Her life verse and desire is “no matter what happens, to conduct herself in a manner worthy of the gospel.” Philippians 1:27
Beth now resides in Tampa, Florida with her husband Larry. The Lord has blessed them by blending their family of five children. They currently have eight grandchildren and are hoping that there will be more grandchildren in the future.
Donna accepted Jesus as her Savior at the age of nine and has been amazed at God’s goodness and faithfulness throughout her life. She has been blessed to have had many mentors through each season of life, who have shown her what trusting God looks like. Donna and her husband, Bryan, make their home in central Arkansas. They have five grown children and are grandparents to wonderful grandchildren. Donna enjoys spending time with her family, laughing with friends (usually over coffee), going for long walks with her husband, and reading a good book (which may also be accompanied by a cup of coffee).
Sarah is a true Florida Cracker. She was born and raised in Southwest Florida. At the age of 6, Sarah accepted Jesus as her Lord and Savior, and she hasn't looked back since. Hebrews 13:8 is one of her favorite verses, "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever." Eating delicious desserts, spending time with her family and friends, and teaching people about Jesus are a few of the things she enjoys to do in her spare time.
Sarah has been married to her best friend and husband, Brandon, for 7 years. They have been blessed with one beautiful, determined son, Asher, who keeps them on their toes. Sarah and her family live in the Tampa area. They love exploring their community together, family hugs, and eating pizza whenever possible.
Katie Flint just recently moved back home to Fort Myers, Florida with her husband, Ryan and two children, Collins and Madden. At the age of 5, Katie accepted Jesus Christ to be the Lord and Savior of her life, after attending Vacation Bible School. Through each phase of her life, God has shown her that He alone is trustworthy. The verse that has been her life source is Psalm 46:10- “Be still and know that I am God.”
She is a stay-at-home mom and enjoys exercising and baking. She has been married to her husband Ryan for almost 9 years, who is her high school sweetheart. They enjoy trying new restaurants, family trips to the beach, and relaxing at home.
Marsha grew up in a small rural town in upstate New York. In 2006, after finishing college, she moved to sunny SW Florida where she met her, now husband, Shawn. Together they enjoy spending family time with their two fun-loving toddler boys Zachariah and Kairos.
Marsha enjoys living an active lifestyle, which is helpful, considering that her favorite hobby is baking.
Though she attended church as a child, Marsha was not saved until adulthood when her eyes were finally opened to the love and mercy of Jesus Christ.
Since being saved, God has placed a loving burden on her heart to share the truth about God’s healing grace with those who may feel like forgiveness is not possible for them.