January 26

Genesis 33-35

Jacob thought Esau would want to kill him. The closer he got to home, the more frightful Jacob must have felt. As the firstborn son Esau should have received their father’s blessing. Esau had a birthright. But Jacob had stolen what should have been Esau’s.

Now he was coming home. We don’t know what happened to Esau during the years Jacob was away. But one thing is certain. Esau didn’t allow anger and jealousy to destroy him.

Somewhere along the line Esau had forgiven Jacob without Jacob even knowing. Did Jacob deserve Esau’s forgiveness? Jacob never apologized or tried to make it up to Esau. So, no. I guess Jacob didn’t deserve forgiveness.

But Esau deserved to forgive.

Someone once said forgiveness is a gift to yourself. And I believe that. I used to tell my students I was too lazy to carry a grudge. It takes a lot of effort. And instead of feeding the hurt I’d rather let it die of starvation. I’ve found the more I think about the wrong someone has done to me, the more I entertain hard feelings, the bigger the grudge becomes and the heavier the burden of carrying it.

Anger and hate are like cancer. They eat at you until they destroy you. And whether or not the person at whom your anger is directed deserves your forgiveness, you deserve the freedom that comes from forgiving them.

And remember… while we were still sinners Christ died for us.

Father, it’s not easy to forgive when we know we have been wronged. And sometimes we need to walk away from the person who has mistreated us. Help us to be aware of the destruction anger and hate does to us. Then help us to let those feelings go. Teach us to forgive as we are forgiven.

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