TODAY’S SCRIPTURE Matthew 18:1-35

The Civil War left a horrific aftermath of pain, bitterness, and hatred throughout our great nation. While the guns had fallen silent, the bitter incriminations persisted. Many could not or would not forget and forgive what had been done. One man who refused to be a participant in the perpetual hate and bitterness was General Robert E. Lee. General Lee, through his words and actions, strongly advocated the reconciliation between the Northern and Southern states. The war was over and the wise general knew that the future of the nation required a new attitude for a new day. The “Gray Knight,” until his death, was never heard to speak a harsh or unmerciful word about those who were formerly his enemies. To illustrate, on one occasion in Lexington, Virginia, where General Lee lived, a woman loyal to the Southern states showed him the scarred remains of a tree in her yard. The tree had been damaged beyond saving by the artillery fire of the Union army. The woman, thinking the “Gray Knight” would empathize with her outrage, waited expectantly for his response. After a few moments, General Lee responded, “Cut it down my dear madam and forget it.”

Mercy is defined in Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary as showing “compassion or forbearance to an offender.” In our Scripture for today Matthew 18:1-35, we read of a man who enjoys the mercy of his master but foolishly is unwilling to extend the same compassion to his fellow worker. As a consequence, the mercy he receives is retracted and he is placed in prison until he could pay the totality of his debt. Today, this tragic story reminds us of the necessity of extending mercy to others, so that we can receive mercy (vs. 35; see Matthew 5:7; 6:14-15).

Today, I will…reflect on those whom I have hurt or wronged, and I will go to them and ask for their mercy and forgiveness. Too, I will reflect on those who have hurt or wronged me and I will “Cut it down and forget it” (i.e. extend to them the mercy and forgiveness they need [James 2:13]).