“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.” — Ephesians 4:31-32
Forgiven and Forgiving
Rivalry is natural. Unselfishness is unnatural. Coaches, athletes and fans are all subject to the weaknesses of human nature. When we find ourselves struggling with unnecessary conflicts and hurtful division, the following story about wildlife learning to live in harmony is helpful.
Ricky Rabbit and Sammy Squirrel lived in the woods near a blueberry farm. They enjoyed fresh fruit every morning and evening. Even though Farmer Jim planted more than 200 bushes, Ricky and Sammy got greedy one day and started fighting over the biggest bush with the juiciest berries. They clawed and bit each another until they woke up Oscar Owl, who was sleeping in the hollow of an oak tree.
Oscar yelled at Ricky and Sammy: “Who! Who! You disturbed my daytime nap. We have plenty of blueberries for the farmer and us too. Why are you fighting when you both have enough?” Ricky and Sammy agreed to stop fighting, share the berries and stop being selfish. Oscar said, “Good. I don’t want any feuds in our part of the woods.”
Fussing and fighting is common, but God presents a better way for us to live. “For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other” (Galatians 5:14-15).
When Saul met Jesus on the road to Damascus, he stopped hating and learned to love all kinds of people. In order to make Paul an apostle, Ananias and Barnabas had to convince everyone to forgive Saul, who became Paul, for his former hatred which caused the stoning death of Stephen and the senseless death of other Christians.
Since Paul benefited from being forgiven, God led him to write about forgiveness. “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” (Ephesians 4:31-32).
— Bill Kent, Pastor of Memorial Baptist Church, Sylvania, Ga.
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