Colossians 3:13-14 (ESV)
13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.
After the Civil War, Robert E. Lee visited a Kentucky lady who took him to the remains of a once beautiful old tree in front of her house. There she bitterly cried that its limbs and trunk had been destroyed by Federal artillery fire. She looked to Lee for a word condemning the North or at least sympathizing with her loss. After a brief silence, Lee said, "Cut it down, my dear Madam, and forget it."
The enemy is constantly attacking the body of Messiah. Some of his most effective tactics are anger, bitterness and unforgiveness, which are often based on real, sometimes deep, wounds we have received from others in the faith. Paul wrote that we should not be ignorant of the enemy's schemes (2 Cor. 2:11), that bitterness, resentment and unforgiveness give him an opportunity to quench the Holy Spirit and destroy our fellowship with God and one another. So the apostle urged forbearance, forgiveness, and above all else, the kind of love which Jesus showed to us; a love which covered our sins against Him, forgiving and restoring relationship. This is not a love which is natural to us. Our nature is to hold on to offenses, to desire justice, recompense, or even revenge. Do we realize that the love we need to truly forgive is from another Source?
The beautiful old tree in the woman's front yard might symbolize something very dear, beloved and precious in your life....something which was terribly damaged by an enemy you feel justified to hate.
Whatever is left of that "tree" in your life or in your memory is a constant temptation to nurture hate and unforgiveness. Is this how you want to live? Will this "tree" become a memorial unto hatred and revenge, or hardness of heart and a never-ending cry for "justice"? If so, you will find yourself bound to that tree, as if you were chained to it. General Lee's words apply here: "Cut it down, my dear Madam, and forget it." "Vengeance is Mine, says the Lord, I will repay." So, not only can you afford to forgive and leave justice in His hands, but the freedom and joy of loving the way God loves, will also be yours.
Jesus has forgiven us. We should forgive others as we've been forgiven. Let's cut down the battered trees in our lives, choose forgiveness, in the Spirit of Jesus, and put on love.
Dear Lord, help us not be chained to the things in life. Help us to cut our self away from the battered things and show Your love. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.