"For if you forgive men when
they sin against you, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you. But
if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive
Matthew 6:14 -
It should come as no surprise to anyone who
has been reading these articles that I like animals. I have always
been an animal lover. Growing up, I was the boy who was bringing
animals home--dogs, cats, ferrets
I even came dangerously close
once to buying a monkey. While others talk about their children, I
talk about my pets.
Cats especially have particular, special
characteristics. They are independent, yet loyal; playful, yet proud;
at times aloof, yet at times the world's best snugglers. Sneezy and
Squawker, especially, are awesome. When I'm sick in bed, they don't
leave my side. I can reach over and scratch them under the chin, and
they'll purr--such a simple thing makes them happy. When
Squawker first came home with me, he would wake me up in the middle
of the night, because he was purring so loud--simply being
curled up next to me made him happy. How could you not love creatures
Several years ago I had a neighbor who
trapped one of my cats in a cage, took it out to his garage, and
killed it. He lived two houses down from me, and I was new to the
neighborhood. In fact, I had moved to the neighborhood because
of my cats. The apartment I had lived in did not allow animals, yet I
had two cats. My landlady gave me a choice: lose the cats, or lose
the apartment. I moved into a duplex that had a yard and trees--their
first experience in the great outdoors.
night I was outside, and I heard a cat crying two houses over. There
was a gravel alley running behind each of the houses, and I walked
over to see what was wrong. In this man's back yard was a metal
cage--much like a rabbit cage--and a cat inside. The cat was crying.
I thought it was strange, to have a cat in a cage like that
I figured he had a reason for it. Maybe the cat was sick, and he
needed to quarantine it. I walked home.
A few nights later, one of my cats didn't
come home. I went outside and called for it--and I heard a cat crying
two doors down. I paid that cat no attention; I assumed it was the
same cat as before. And, of course, in my memory it gets worse and
worse--the more I called, the louder this cat cried. But I didn't go
I organized our youth group, making maps of
the neighborhood and dividing them into teams. I sent them door to
door to ask my neighbors if they had seen my cat. Very quickly, one
of the teams came back and told me, "You need to hear what your
next-door neighbor has to say." This was the neighbor who lived
between me and this other man, and her message was not encouraging:
"That man traps cats, and kills them. We know he's doing it, but we
can't prove it, so the police can't do anything."
I was furious. Suddenly all the pieces came
together, and I understood what had happened. I went over to his
house, and banged on his door with my flashlight--but to no avail. He
would not answer. That night I lay in bed, seething
thought of was various harms I could inflict on him.
The next morning I went outside, and there
he was: two houses down, doing some work in his back yard, as if
nothing were wrong. I wanted to go over there. I wanted to go over
there and let him have it
and I even started to take a couple
steps. But wouldn't you know it--just as I was about to go, I start
thinking of things Jesus said: "Turn the other cheek
enemies and pray for those who wrong you
" It's one of those
moments when you want to say, "God, not now. I don't
want to be a Christian right now." Unfortunately--or,
fortunately--being a follower of Christ is not a
part-time commitment. You do, or you don't; and you do always, not
So, next I thought--"Well, I'll just go over
there and talk to him. We'll just talk,
that's all." And God's response was: "Dan, you know you aren't in any
condition to have a loving conversation with this man.
Let it go."
It is not always an easy thing to forgive.
Jesus even acknowledges this. In Luke 6:31 - 34, He says:
"Do to others as you
would have them do to you. If you love those who love you, what
credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' love those who love them.
And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is
that to you? Even 'sinners' do that. And if you lend to those
from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you?
Even 'sinners' lend to 'sinners,' expecting to be repaid in
It's one thing to love those who love you,
to do good to those who are good to you, to lend to those whom you
know will pay you back
anyone can do that! It's
easy to "play it safe"
but how about taking it a
step further? How far can you take it? Jesus goes on to say, in
verses 35 - 38:
"But love your enemies,
do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get
anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be
sons of the Most High, because He is kind to the ungrateful and
wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Do not
judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will
not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and
it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken
together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For
with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."
Love the unlovable. Be good to those who
treat you poorly. God Himself is kind to the ungrateful and
wicked--be like God. Show mercy. In fact, we set the standard--the
"measure"--by which God looks upon us. Don't judge, and you won't be
don't condemn, and you won't be
forgive, and you'll be
What a really, really, HARD thing to do! But
we're called to do it. It's part of the package of Christ. In fact,
it's the gift and grace of Christ--we are
forgiven through Him. How can we not, likewise, forgive
If you have anything of interest to add to
or you have general comments, questions, or ideas,
we welcome your response.
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