Focal Passages: Colossians 3:12-13; Philemon 8-22
At the fragile age of 13, Susie transferred to another
school. There she found girls in her class intent upon keeping her outside
their tightly knit circle. Among them, Mary seemed the most open to Susie’s
friendship. One day after school, as the two walked home together, Sarah
suddenly rushed from behind, pushed Susie and Mary apart and placed herself
between them. She related only to Mary, making no eye contact or conversation
Gradually, Sarah steered Mary and herself ahead, leaving Susie to
walk alone behind them.
Emotionally crushed, Susie related the incident to her
mother. “You must forgive Sarah,” her mother suggested. “She hasn’t asked me to
forgive her,” Susie answered.
“She won’t,” her mother said. “The injured always does the
forgiving. Until you forgive Sarah, however, you have bound her to you — the
very thing you don’t want. Once you forgive, you’ll both benefit: she’ll be
released and you’ll be free, leaving the door open for future friendship.” The
Greek word that Paul used for forgiveness in Colossians 1:13-14 means “to send
away.” Paul wrote, God “has rescued us from the domain of darkness and transferred
us into the kingdom of the Son He loves, in whom we have redemption, the
forgiveness of sins.”
Centuries ago, Paul intervened for Onesimus, a slave who ran
away from Philemon, his owner. Writing to Philemon, Paul begged him to forgive
Onesimus and take him back, “no longer a slave, but as a dearly beloved
brother” (Philem. 16).
Jesus personified forgiveness though many offended Him:
Jewish leaders plotted His death, Judas betrayed Him, Peter denied Him, and
Pilate, although believing Him innocent, ordered His crucifixion. The mob
screamed, ‘Crucify Him!’ and the soldiers drove the nails, but no one on record
begged His forgiveness.
Instead, it was Jesus, the offended, who prayed, “Father,
In colonial America, John Wesley pled the case of an
offending colonist before the British governor, James Oglethorpe. The governor
quipped, “Wesley, I never forgive.”
Wesley responded, “Then I hope you never offend!”
Jesus said, “Whenever you stand praying, if you have
anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven will also
forgive your wrongdoing. But if you don’t forgive, neither will your Father in
heaven forgive your wrongdoing” (Mark 11:25-26). With that in mind, let us
forgive those who offend us, and leave the Sarahs of the world to God.