Word for the day by Christian Education Forum
“The Fruit of Forbearance”
“But Esau ran to meet Jacob and embraced him; he threw his arms around his neck and kissed him. And they wept.” Genesis 33:4
“Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” (Matthew 6:12 NIV) It’s a sentence we have said countless times in our lives…every time we pray the Lord’s Prayer. To truly forgive someone is a difficult task that requires us to model God’s patience and forgiveness that he exhibits each and every day for each and every one of us. We have all been wronged and angered by someone…strangers, people in our school or workplaces, and even by those closest to us such as friends and family. We often try to justify our anger and actions after we are wronged, but Jesus made it very clear in the Parable of the Unmerciful Servant (Matthew 18:21-35) that there is no limit to how many times we forgive a person who wronged us, and that we should show mercy and forgive the debts of those who have sinned against us.
In today’s passage we see Jacob meet Esau for the first time after deceiving him and stealing not only his birthright, but stealing Isaac’s blessing meant for Esau. This angered Esau enough that he vowed to kill brother Jacob; “Esau held a grudge against Jacob…He said to himself, “The days of mourning for my father are near; then I will kill my brother Jacob.” Jacob, as a result, fled his home to live with his Uncle Laban and feared what Esau might do with his four hundred men when the two finally met after so long. Instead of vengeance and anger we see Esau’s forgiveness and love for Jacob and his family. Jacob even sent Esau gifts before their encounter consisting of hundreds of cattle in order to “repay a debt” for his previous deception, but Esau forgave him unconditionally without wanting a thing from Jacob; “But Esau said, “I have already have plenty my brother. Keep what you have for yourself.” (Genesis 33:9) Later in Genesis we see how Joseph’s brothers feared that Joseph held a grudge for faking his death and selling him into slavery and that Joseph would pay them back for the wrongs they did to him. Joseph, however, forgave his brothers and had no ill will towards them; “So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children. And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them.” (Genesis 50:21)
The general theme for this week is the Fruits of the Spirit which are described in Galatians 5:22. The NIV version replaces the word patience with the word forbearance. Forbearance is defined by the Webster Dictionary as “refraining from the enforcement of something (as a debt) that is due or the act of forbearing.” Forbearing is defined as “to control oneself when provoked; to hold back and abstain.” The Spirit’s fruit of forbearance is much more than patience. It is choosing not to retaliate when wronged. I have seen how anger from being wronged has destroyed families and friendships. One example, is how anger over fights or deceptions between siblings in the past over ancestral land or property have lead to broken relationships between siblings, which has then spread to generations after them. Often times we regrettably look back to the broken relationships we could have repaired or saved if we forgave and held back our anger. We need to seek the fruit of forbearance and strength from God to forgive and love all those have wronged us.
Prayer: Dear Lord, thank you for forgiving all our sins and offenses. Help us gain the strength we need to truly forgive all those who have wronged us and be able to exhibit the Spirit’s gift of forbearance and self control.
Thought for the Day: “Slow to anger, quick to forgive”
Abe Tharakan, St Andrew’s MTC, NY