Colossians 3:13 – Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. (NIV)
It was Rear Admiral Grace Hopper who coined the phrase, "It's better to ask for forgiveness afterwards than to wait for permission." She also initiated the term "computer bug" after literally finding a bug in one of the navy's large computers. Years ago, one of my daughters had to do a project on famous people, and somehow, we chose Grace Hopper. It was a great experience to explore her life, and when we went to visit Washington, we took time to find her grave in Arlington.
Forgiveness is the fuel that separates churches from other clubs and organizations. Within a congregation, different groups and entities are always vying for finite resources, time, and space. Almost twenty years ago, when I ministered to two churches in Scotland, both congregations really started to grow. One of the churches didn't have a lot of space, so I wanted to take out some of the back pews and build a narthex, where our church children could have Sunday School during the worship service. They were meeting in the village hall about four miles away from the church. I realized that if they couldn't meet in the church itself, then eventually the young families would fall away from worship. I couldn't convince the elders or the board that this was the right thing to do. When I left, so did the families. Worship still continues at the church, but there's never a children's sermon given by the pastor. It's sad.
I guess some people wouldn't have forgiven me, back then, if I had managed to take out some of the back pews in which they always sat. They refused to see the bigger picture and ended up with a dying church.
I guess the lesson for us today is to learn to forgive one another in our congregations, so that we can move forward into a bigger and better future for the Lord. For in the end, what we say and do reflects what we accomplish and achieve for His kingdom through our churches. And sometimes the vision and the opportunities that we set aside are the very ones that will bless our congregations in the years to come.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, please grant us the rare gift of discernment, so that we may know what is right, good, and proper in Your eyes to enhance the life, work, and ministries of our churches. Teach us how to bear with one another lovingly, and grant us the grace to forgive each other graciously. In Your holy name, we pray. Amen.