The Upper Room devotional reflection for Sunday, January 9, 2022 comes to us from Cameron Kempson of North Carolina
25 Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body. 26 “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 and do not give the devil a foothold. 28 Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need. 29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.
31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
Ephesians 4:25-32 NIV
My little farming homestead is nestled in a suburban, woodsy neighborhood. In the late afternoon, I love to walk through the trees behind the house as the light dances among the leaves. Sometimes, I lie down on the ground and look up in awe at the formidable old oaks and tulip poplars. If I catch the light just right, however, I can also see scars or bumps on the outside of a tree – a place where the bark is clearly not unified with the rest of the trunk. Yet the tree continues to grow past the scars and live a healthy life.
In our scripture today, we learn that the same can be said about the process of forgiveness.
Forgiveness is not just about letting go; it’s also about moving forward – not holding someone else or ourselves captive to the hurts of the past. It’s about being actively compassionate and offering words and acts of grace, just as God has done for us through Jesus Christ. Like the trees, we have wounds; but we do not have to become stunted by them. Through lives of prayer and acts of forgiveness, we allow God to heal our scars, create new life, and guide us in our continued growth.
Forgiveness is a crucial part of our faith journey. It often means letting go of pain, and not allowing the hurt and anger to linger and control our lives. A sermon once helped me to understand that God’s call to forgive does not mean accepting hurtful behavior or allowing that behavior to continue. Often forgiveness does far more to heal the one offering it than the one being forgiven. Compassionate forgiveness frees us to joyfully experience God’s unconditional grace and love.
Gracious Creator, despite our sadness and pain, help us dare to live with compassion. Heal our wounds so that we may embrace new life. Amen.
People trying to forgive themselves.
Thought for the Day:
Compassionate forgiveness is a part of my journey toward wholeness.