It is almost yard sale season, the time of year when I can get rid of things I no longer need or want and then go buy someone else’s things they no longer need or want.
Actually, I enjoy having yard sales, it isn’t really about getting money – though that is a bonus. But there is something satisfying about seeing the joy in another person’s eye when they find a treasure amongst my junk.
One summer I had a big yard sale in which I included our trampoline. We had had a great deal of fun with that trampoline over the years but the kids were all older and we really didn’t use it anymore so it was time. A family stopped over and wanted the item but didn’t have enough cash to pay for it so we worked out a payment plan. Week after week the hardship of life made keeping the payment schedule difficult for the family and eventually I found myself expecting the call, and I confess it was beginning to frustrate me.
Each day as I passed by the house I allowed myself to feel bitterness toward them for the lack of payment. Until one day. I was walking through the neighborhood and I heard laughter echoing down the alleyway. Peering between the houses as I walked I soon saw that it was coming from the trampoline. There, jumping their little hearts out were the kids to whom I was so excited to sell the trampoline the previous summer. In that instant that trampoline became a gift.
Being in a position to forgive a debt is freeing in ways that are hard to describe. Scripture tells us in Ephesians 4:31-32 that we should “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
Forgiving each other, this can be applied to forgiving a debt. Now this is not to say that we should not hold each other accountable for debts that are owed, but in the example of the trampoline not only was I allowing that situation to breed anger, but I found myself complaining about it to others. I had developed an anger toward this person who was not unwilling, but was unable to meet the requirements of the debt.
How easy it is to choose to look only at ourselves and feel wronged in a situation like this. But you know, this can be applied in situation where we are dealing with past hurts or a deliberate wrong.
Forgiving someone, especially someone who hasn’t done their part to correct a situation – or right the wrong – is difficult. But when you make the choice to forgive the pain in the memory of the hurt is lessened, the frustration in the futility of the situation is relieved, and the connection to our heavenly Father is opened up a little more. Forgiveness is not about feeling, just as love is a choice, forgiveness is also a choice, a choice that gives a gift not just to you but to the one whom you have chosen to forgive.