"The cats had a huge stinky mess today," the note laying on the kitchen countertop informed me.
My wife's scribbling allowed my mind to easily grasp what to expect in our cat's basement domain. This wasn't the first time; it seems to be more frequent as our cats, Timmons and Ruby, head toward their twilight years.
Jokingly I asked my wife, "Remind me again, why do we have cats?"
She alluded to their great mice catching ability. Then she said, "The cats are like relatives, you can't get rid of them."
Huge stinky relative problems go back to history's first family when Cain murdered his brother Abel. From small squabbles to all out war, the family continues to be a battleground. We even have TV shows with family woes being the main theme.
Most messy family situations start out small. Let's consider what you and I can do to keep them from becoming huge stinky messes.
While this is a complex, multi-faceted issue; the question of forgiveness will certainly swirl in the mix. Jesus was approached by someone who was willing to forgive "up to seven times" a relative who had wronged him. Generous, since the Jewish Rabbis of the day taught that forgiveness should not be extended beyond three times.
Jesus replied, "I tell you not seven times but seven times seventy."
The point- He wasn't actually setting the limit at 490, but illustrating endless forgiveness.
Even forgiving a person once can be gut wrenchingly difficult. It was kind of like when I went to clean up the cat's huge stinky. As I kneeled on the floor with a rag wiping up the smelly mess, the stench tensed my stomach.
And sometimes we need to bend to our knees with a white cloth and wipe clean a huge stinky relative problem. We need to forgive. And let your white cloth be forgiveness in the manner Jesus prescribed-"From your heart."
Rev. Rick Leland of Three Rivers, Mich. is a pastor of The Free Church and has a degree in Christian Ministry from Indiana Christian University.