Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
Written by: Nathan Smith
A long time ago—long before any Europeans came to North America—there were two Native American leaders named Deganawidah and Hiawatha who convinced five warring tribes that they would be stronger together if they could make peace with each other. They became known as the Five Nations or the Haudenosaunee. To celebrate the forming of the alliance, they had a ceremony where the leader of each nation brought their weapons and literally buried them in the ground under the roots of a large white pine tree. According to tradition, the weapons were washed away by an underground river. Centuries later, whenever a treaty was agreed to between European settlers and Native American tribes, there would typically be a ceremony to “bury the hatchet.” To this day, we still use the phrase to describe peace and forgiveness.
In 1991 the great American “philosopher” Garth Brooks wrote these lyrics: “We bury the hatchet but leave the handle sticking out.” As with any good songwriting, sometimes humor can be used to illustrate an actual serious human condition. There are times when, as human beings, we claim to forgive someone for something but then later we bring that same issue up again when we need it for ammunition in a battle. That’s not true forgiveness. Forgiveness doesn’t mean that we forget everything that happened. We’re not God and he doesn’t hold us to that standard. But forgiveness does mean that I’m making the choice to release you of this debt and not to use it against you in the future.
I love the phrase “bear with each other” that Paul uses in Colossians 3:13. He understood that being a human being and having relationships is hard. Bearing with each other implies that we’re all going to mess up because none of us is perfect. And because of that, it’s a constant choice every day to forgive each other just as the Lord forgave us.
Thought of the day: How often in your relationships are you “leaving the handle out”? It’s not really forgiveness if you do. You don’t have to forget but you’ll never find peace as long as you have the weapon ready to use.
Prayer: God, help me to forgive in the way that You forgive. When I’m tempted to unfairly use someone’s past against them, please give me the strength to leave it buried. Help me find peace in my relationships through true forgiveness.