Freely you have received; freely give. Matthew 10:8b
I have a confession to make. I have been more influenced by the sitcom, Seinfeld, then one should probably admit in public. For example, recently my husband and I were driving home from out of town and the gas tank was on empty. Crazily, the thought crossed our minds to see if we could make it all the way home . . .
without stopping for gas! Something we saw on Seinfeld in the Dealership Episode! (Don’t worry. Reason won out and we stopped for gas!)
Not all Seinfeld episodes were family friendly. But while the sitcom was on the air, it continually made many of its ingenuities common household words. Like “anti-dentite”, “low talker”, “double-dipping”, “yada yada yada”, “Soup Nazi” and one of my favorites, “regifter”.
This past holiday season, I had two reasons to become a “regifter” myself!
Reason 1: This pair of slippers that my husband gave me! However, the more I looked at them, I knew in my heart, I could not regift them to an enemy, let alone a friend! (For the record, whenever my husband has given me clothes for presents, his taste has been impeccable. These slippers were an enigma!)
Reason 2: Our family winter road trip!
Let me explain. A couple of days after Christmas, our family took a twelve-day Southwestern road trip through Utah, Arizona and California. We had some wonderful memorable times seeing the Natural Bridges National Monument, Monument Valley, Canyon De Chelly, Grand Canyon, Kartchner Caverns and some amazing Native American ruins and pictographs. Unfortunately, we had some equally memorable family feuds! Long hours driving cooped up in the car, lack of sleep and irregular mealtimes took its toll on some of the days we traveled. I would like to say it was just the kids who got mad and irritable at times but that wouldn’t be the truth. One evening after driving all day, something happened, like somebody didn’t get what they ordered through the drive-thru and there was a cantankerous exchange. I recall being pretty agitated and then “coincidentally” two songs in a row came on the radio about forgiveness.
First, Tenth Avenue North’s, Losing:
I can’t believe what she said
I can’t believe what he did
Oh, don’t they know it’s wrong, yeah?
Don’t they know it’s wrong, yeah?
Maybe there’s something I missed But how could they treat me like this?
. . .This is love, this is hate…
We all have a choice to make
Oh, Father won’t You forgive them?
They don’t know what they’ve been doin’ (oh no)
Oh, Father, give me grace to forgive them
‘Cause I feel like the one losin’
Well it’s only the dead that can live
But still I wrestle with this
To lose the pain that’s mine
Seventy times seven times
‘Cause Lord it doesn’t feel right
For me to turn a blind eye
Though I guess it’s not that much
When I think of what You’ve done.
and then Matthew West’s, Forgiveness:
It’s the hardest thing to give away
And the last thing on your mind today
It always goes to those that don’t deserve
It’s the opposite of how you feel
When the pain they caused is just too real
It takes everything you have just to say the word…
It flies in the face of all your pride
It moves away the mad inside
It’s always anger’s own worst enemy
Even when the jury and the judge
Say you gotta right to hold a grudge
It’s the whisper in your ear saying ‘Set It Free’
Show me how to love the unlovable
Show me how to reach the unreachable
Help me now to do the impossible
I want to finally set it free
So show me how to see what Your mercy sees
Help me now to give what You gave to me
The words to these songs brought to my mind a verse I had memorized as a child, Ephesians 4:32. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. They also brought to mind the whole idea of “regifting”. It would be easy to give away the slippers I received for Christmas, but the gift of forgiveness was another thing all together! I prayed, “God, please give me grace to forgive and help me be a “regifter” of forgiveness.” I remember thinking to myself, forgiveness is imperative for families! The next few days we had such a wonderful time enjoying God’s amazing creation at the Grand Canyon. We would have missed out on some great times if we all had held grudges. I realize there are those who have suffered great pain from others and the idea of forgiveness seems impossible. However, God is our source and it is what the Kingdom of God is all about. That is why the Bible is very clear that we are to forgive others as we have been forgiven. (Colossians 3:13) It even takes it one step further by saying if we don’t forgive others, we will not receive forgiveness ourselves. (Matthew 6:14-15) One of the Greek words used in the New Testament for forgive is charizomai which when translated means to show favor, pardon, forgive. Interestingly, this word originates from the Greek word Charis which is sometimes translated gift! Truly forgiveness is a gift we have received over and over from our God.
Let us as believers be the ultimate regifters! Freely we have received forgiveness, freely let us give it! LH
(Many of the posts on this website are accompanied by a “Just Say Know” Bible Study broken up into 5 days. The Study is designed to take you no more than 10 minutes each day. Check out this week’s study on forgiveness below.)
“Just Say Know” Bible Study
Day 1 Read Matthew 6:9-13
One of the most memorized passages of scripture is the Lord’s Prayer. Here, Jesus is teaching His disciples to pray and He gives us very important insight on forgiveness.
- Why do you think Jesus says that we should pray to be forgiven as we forgive others?
- Why would Almighty God tie himself to what we do on earth?”
- Augustine called this text “a terrible petition.” He pointed out that if you pray these words while harboring an unforgiving spirit, you are actually asking God not to forgive you. Is there someone you need to forgive before you pray this prayer?
Day 2 Read Matthew 6:14-15
One very important thing must be pointed out. Jesus does not explain or add any commentary on any part of His prayer, except on the topic of forgiveness. He spells out clearly in verses 14 and 15 what He means in verse 12!
- Why do you think Jesus elaborated on forgiveness in verses 14 and 15?
- Does knowing God will forgive you AS you forgive others make it easier to forgive?
- Take some time to think about those who have hurt you in your past. Would you be happy or afraid to have God forgive you in the same manner you forgave them?
Day 3 Read Matthew 18:21-35
Have you ever asked the question “How many times do I have to forgive? You are not alone. The Apostle Peter, upon whom Jesus said He would build His church, asked this very question.
- In rabbinic tradition the consensus was that a brother might be forgiven a repeated sin three times; on the fourth, there would be no forgiveness. Peter, thinking himself big-hearted, volunteers “seven times” in answer to his own question. How many times did Jesus tell Peter he must forgive?
- Do you think this was a literal number of times we are to forgive? Why or Why not?
- How much did the man owe the King in verse 23? How much did the servant owe the man in verse 28? Why do you think Jesus used such a vast contrast between what the man owed the King and what the servant owed the man?
- According to verses 33 through 35, what will happen if we do not forgive?
Day 4 Read Colossians 3:13; Ephesians 4:32; Psalm 103:12; Isaiah 38:17, 43:25; Psalm 51:1,9; Micah 7:19
- According to Colossians 3 and Ephesians 4, how are we supposed to forgive others?
- Make a list of how God has forgiven you according to the above scriptures.
Day 5 Read Matthew 5:23-24; Mark 11:24-25
- According to Matthew 5, what are you supposed to do if someone has something against you?
- According to Mark 11, what are you supposed to do if you have something against another?