December 12, 2016 - Heather Portillo

“Bear with each other and forgive any complaint you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” Colossians 3:13

For many, the Christmas season is a reminder of relationships lost and perhaps brokenness in the family. Growing up, my mother’s side of the family was constantly at odds with one another. There was a lot of bad history there. Despite the tension, Christmas was always very enjoyable and I remember the traditions fondly. As children, my cousins and I enjoyed topping our fingers with pitted black olives, sitting at the “kids’ table” even though we were teenagers and catching up with those we hadn’t seen since the previous Christmas. However, in 1995 the contempt in the family reached a boiling point and all of the bitterness and resentment came to the surface. That Christmas Day, my family was permanently divided. It was confusing for me and heartbreaking for my mom.

The following year we had our first Christmas without her family. I remember the challenge in making new traditions and holding onto cherished ones despite the memories of family members that I likely would never spend Christmas with again. As an adult, when I see a verse like Colossians 3:13 I am reminded how important it is to offer forgiveness and live in unity with those around me. The second part of the verse shows me how to forgive. Romans 5:8 says, “But God proves His love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” While I was still sinning God offered forgiveness. Sometimes forgiveness is a gift we don’t recognize we need.

This Christmas is the perfect opportunity to offer the gift of forgiveness to those in your life who may not recognize they need it. Perhaps in offering forgiveness, you will receive the gift of peace that comes from forgiving the way God forgives.

Heavenly Father, thank you for offering the gift of forgiveness before I recognized I needed it. You know my struggles and you see what brokenness exists. Show me how to offer that same forgiveness to those who have hurt me so that I can experience your perfect peace.

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