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Matthew 6:14-15

14 For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:

15 But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

Christmas is a time when people gather together to enjoy a meal and exchange gifts. This time of year naturally brings families and friends together, and it becomes obvious when someone is missing. Some are absent because they are present with the Lord, others have conflicts with scheduling, but some are missing because they have ought. Yes, someone has hurt their feelings, or said a cross word. Many times it was just a misunderstanding that no one took the time to work out.

Relationships take time. We have to work at maintaining friendships and if we don't, they fail. The Bible gives us very clear instructions on what to do when someone is offended or ought has occurred. We are to go them in private, sit down, and talk it out. We will never reconcile the problem by telling other people who have no part in the problem or solution; that only makes things worse.

In my experience most of the time when we reach out to someone who has been hurt and make a genuine attempt to work it out, an agreement can be reached. We have to be obedient to the Scripture and move quickly; forgiveness unattended can turn into a root of bitterness and poison our entire life. It can get deep into our soul and become a wedge that not only separates us from a loved one but also the LORD.

The Bible tells us if we cannot forgive one another then how can we expect the LORD to forgive us. And how can we say we love God whom we have not seen, when we don't love our brethren whom we have seen. Ultimately, unforgiveness affects our walk with Jesus. Even if we didn't cause the problem we should initiate the healing process.

Shine the light in the darkness and allow the light to make the darkness flee. The Scripture says blessed are the peacemakers for theirs is the kingdom of God, and it is the meek that shall inherit the earth. Obviously it will take a "whole bunch" of humility to reach out to an old friend or family member that we have not spoken to in years, but love can cover a multitude of sins.

When we forgive, we benefit, bottom line; living at peace with God and others is a recipe for success. If we tolerate unforgiveness then next Christmas it may be two vacant seats, and then three or four. Don't let hurt feelings justify a root of bitterness. Christmas is the time of forgiveness, and we will never be more like Jesus than when we forgive others.

Pastor Ken Smith

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