Punishment

Punishment

Forgiveness stone

“‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’”—MATTHEW 18:32–33 ESV 

In one of Jesus’ parables about the kingdom of heaven, a king forgave a servant who could never repay his debt. Not long afterward, the king learned that this wicked man had acted harshly toward another who owed him. The king’s response—in this case, punishment—was immediate.

Our Lord has forgiven us so much—and in our honest moments, we freely admit it. But generous forgiveness seems hard to pass on to others. Retribution, not mercy, may become our response to others’ sins. Where God acts graciously, we can become demanding. We want things to be made right, and we want it now!

As caregivers, it’s easy to fall into the temptations of unforgiveness. Our lives may seem small and unimportant, limited to the little world of our loved ones’ experience. Delayed dreams and aspirations may cause us pain. Caught up in bitterness, we may respond mercilessly to wrongs, imagined or real.

Let’s not distort God’s grace toward us by dwelling on those things we lack or the sins of others. Instead, we can remember the abundant mercy that has been ours. God is not punishing us—and we need not punish others, either.

Today's Prayer:

I don’t want to get caught up in bitterness and unforgiveness, Lord. Cleanse my heart from all sin and make me merciful to others, too.

Adapted from Strength & Grace: Daily Devotions for Caregivers, a new publication from Guideposts