C.S. Lewis says, “It is perhaps not so hard to forgive a single great injury. But to forgive the incessant provocations of daily life – to keep on forgiving the bossy mother-in-law, the bullying husband, the nagging wife, the selfish daughter, the deceitful son – how can we do it? Only, I think, by remembering where we stand…” (The Weight of Glory).
How do I get rid of all those throny irritants attached to my pant leg? God tells us that we should forgive just as God in Christ forgave us, graciously, not begrudgingly (Ephesians 4:32). How we forgive wrongs demonstrates the degree to which we treasure the cross of Christ. The burs that stick are an opportunity to express the mercy and grace of God, over and over and over again.
Thomas Watson defines forgiveness as:
1. Resisting revenge
2. Not returning evil for evil
3. Wishing them well
4. Grieving at their calamities
5. Praying for their welfare
6. Seeking reconciliation so far as it depends on you
7. Coming to their aid in distress
Every time I feel the prick from the bristles, if I choose to do at least #5, pray for their welfare, then the burs tend to lose their prickliness. Sometimes they completely fall off. I can bravely hike into the messy places armed wtih at least half of these on my list and not fear the potential harm from attack. They may actually roll off.
The most humbling thing is knowing that I am sometimes a bur-inflictor. My own faults remind me to extend to others the same grace and mercy that I want extended back to me.