Pack Light for Life's Journey

An aching back from an overpacked suitcase leads to a lesson on forgiveness.

By Dianne Neal Matthews, Salt Lake City, Utah

As appeared in

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, ”Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy- seven times.” Matthew 18:21–22 (NIV)

I trudged through the airport looking for the right gate. My back already ached from handling the carry-on bag and the rolling briefcase. Why did I bring all this stuff?

I inwardly moaned. Since I’d needed to do some work during my visit to my daughter’s family, I had packed my heavy laptop and a few reference books. At the last minute, I’d tossed in my day planner. And of course, I simply had to have all the technology stuff, along with the necessary cords and chargers.

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Mornings with Jesus 2015

Mornings with Jesus 2015

Deepen your experience with Christ every sunrise with 365 short devotional writings.

My carry-on bag bulged with an extra pair of shoes and clothes I hadn’t even worn—not to mention all the lotions and potions I could have done without. I couldn’t help casting envious glances at those people who walked by with a single tote bag or backpack slung over their shoulders.

The aches from dealing with heavy luggage are nothing compared to the injuries we cause ourselves by lugging around a different kind of baggage. Jesus wants to help us let go of the heavy burden of past hurts and wrongs that have been done to us. During Jesus’ day, Jewish rabbis taught that a person should forgive someone who wronged them, but only three times.

Jesus introduced a revolutionary principle: forgiveness without limits. It’s hard to forgive someone who has hurt me; it’s also difficult to forgive myself for past mistakes and poor decisions. I can only cultivate a forgiving spirit by depending on Jesus moment by moment to help me make that conscious decision, and by remembering how much He has forgiven me.

Jesus knows that if I let go of the burden of unforgivingness, I’ll enjoy a lighter spirit, a peaceful mind, more energy, and healthier relationships. And I’ll know the freedom of packing light for my life’s journey.

Faith step: Whom do you need to forgive today—yourself or someone else?

This devotion is excerpted from Mornings with Jesus 2013.