"Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity."
The door slammed loudly as my teenager stormed off in a huff. As we had so many times before, we found ourselves at odds with one another over my lofty expectations and his failure to meet them. What began as a simple discussion over homework had somehow escalated into a shouting match that ended with his angry declaration, “Mom, I’m NOT like you!” My son was absolutely right. He is not like me; he is the unique individual God created him to be and, like the rest of us, is a work in progress.
How often do we find ourselves in conflict with one another, seeing only each other's faults yet denying our own? Have we forgotten our own sin and our constant need for God’s forgiveness and mercy? We are so swift to criticize others and slow to forgive their offenses. But, forgiveness is not an option. God commands us to forgive as he forgave us. “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 your sins” (Matthew 6:14-15).
If you are having trouble forgiving someone, ask the Lord to first forgive you and fill you with his love. Only as you receive his gift of forgiveness and clothe yourself with his love can you in turn extend that forgiveness and love to others.