“Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you,” (Eph 4:31-32).
He was a man nobody liked–hard, sullen, taciturn, and sour. If you met him on the street and wished him good-day, he would keep his eyes straight in front of him, grunt sulkily and pass on. He lived in a tumbled-down old hut away back in the bush. He spoke to nobody, and he made it perfectly plain that he wished nobody to speak to him. Even the children shunned him.
Some said he was a hermit; some that he was a miser; some that he was a woman-hater; some that he was a fugitive from justice, a man with a guilty secret. But they were all wrong. The simple truth was that in his youth a companion had done him a grievous injury. “I’ll remember it to my dying day,” he hissed, in a gust of passionate resentment.
And he did. But when his dying day actually came, he realized that the rankling memory of that youthful wrong had soured and darkened his whole life. “I’ve gone over it by myself every morning,” he moaned, as he lay gasping in his comfortless shanty, “and I’ve thought of it every night. I’ve cursed him a hundred times each day. I see now,” he added brokenly, a suspicion of moisture glistening in his eye, “that my curses have eaten out my soul; they’ve been like gall on my tongue and gravel in my teeth. My hate has hurt nobody but myself. But it’s turned my life into gloom and misery!” It was true. The man at whom he had spat out his venomous maledictions, having done all a man could do to atone for the suffering that he had thoughtless caused, had dismissed the matter from his mind a generation back. Upon him the gnarled old man’s bitterness had produced little or no effect. It was the man who cherished the sinister memory who suffered most. It shadowed his life; it lent a new terror to death; it expelled every trace of brightness and excluded every ray of hope; and at last, a grim and ghostly companion, it lay down with him in his cold and cheerless grave.
May we each learn the healing power of forgiveness — before it is too late!