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Continued Growth

Stop lying to each other; tell the truth, for we are parts of each other and when we lie to each other we are hurting ourselves. If you are angry, don't sin by nursing your grudge. Don't let the sun go down with you still angry - get over it quickly; for when you are angry you give a mighty foothold to the devil.

If anyone is stealing, he must stop it and begin using those hands of his for honest work so he can give to others in need. Don't use bad language. Say only what is good and helpful to those you are talking to, and what will give them a blessing.

Don't cause the Holy Spirit sorrow by the way you live. Remember he is the one who marks you to be present on that day when salvation from sin will be complete.

Stop being mean, bad-tempered and angry. Quarreling, harsh words, and dislike of others should have no place in your lives. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God has forgiven you because you belong to Christ. Ephesians 5: 25-32 (TLB)

Cameron Kempson lives in North Carolina. His little farming homestead is nestled in a suburban, woodsy neighborhood. In the late afternoon, he loves to walk through the trees behind the house as the light dances among the leaves. Sometimes, he lies down on the ground and looks up in awe at the formidable old oaks and tulip poplars. If he catches the light just right, however, he can also see the scars and bumps on the outside of a tree - a place where the bark is clearly not unified with the rest of the trunk. Yet the tree continues to grow past the scars and live a healthy life.

In our scripture today, we learn that the same can be said about the process of forgiveness. Forgiveness is not just about letting go; it's also about moving forward - not holding someone else or ourselves captive to the hurts of the past. It's about being actively compassionate and offering words and acts of grace, just as God has done for us through Jesus Christ.

Like the trees, we have wounds; but we do not have to become stunted by them. Through lives of prayer and acts of forgiveness, we allow God to heal our scars, create new life, and guide us in our continued growth.

Prayer: Gracious Creator, despite our sadness and pain, help us dare to live with compassion. Heal our wounds so that we may embrace new life, in Jesus' name. Amen.

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