Welcome to Redeem the Commute. I’m Ryan, your host for this daily challenge. It’s Thursday, the day we try to apply and live out what we’ve learned this week from the Bible. This week we’ve been studying the story of Jacob and his brother Esau in the Old Testament; how they’ve been estranged for about 20 years, but they finally came together. Esau forgave his brother for what he’d stolen from him, the way he behaved in the past, and they were able to have a fresh start. Forgiveness always does that, it gives us a fresh start. I think one of the most famous stories in the New Testament that Jesus told to his followers was actually inspired by this story.

He told the story of the Prodigal Son in the New Testament. He talks about a father and his two sons. It’s an older son and younger son and the younger son goes to his father and asks for his part of the inheritance now. His older son who is going to stay at home and work the farm. The younger son wants to go, he wants to spend his money, and he does that. His father gives him the inheritance, the portion that he would have been entitled to when he died, and allows him to go and waste it.

One day as he wastes all of this in a foreign land he finds himself longing for home thinking, “What have I done? I would have been better off as a servant at my father’s home than being a servant to foreign people who I don’t know.” He gets up and he walks home expecting his father to be upset, expecting his father to turn him away. He’s even preparing his speech, saying, “Father, will you just hire me as a servant? That’s the best I can hope for. I don’t deserve to be a son anymore. I’ll just work for you.”

His father runs out to meet him in a very undignified way. He goes running, despite being a man of fairly high stature in his community. He runs in his sandals and picking up his robes. He runs to greet his son. Hugging him, welcoming him home, giving him some of the signs and symbols of being a son in the family, not just a servant. The father restores him to the place that he once had in family and forgives him.

There are some parallels to the story we’ve studied this week. A father, with two sons, a theme of forgiveness, and particularly I think the coming together of Esau and brother reminds us of the father and son in Jesus’ story, as they embrace and all is forgiven. A fresh start is given to the wayward relative.

There’s another story in the New Testament that I think is relevant here too. There’s a story Jesus tells of a servant who is forgiven his debts. He’s forgiven his debts, and instead of going and rejoicing and getting a fresh start in life, what he immediately does is he turns around, finds somebody who owes him money and demands it of him. It’s clear from the story Jesus is telling that he wants us to learn something about forgiving others as we have forgiven.

It’s in the Lord’s Prayer. Jesus was moving towards the cross where he was going to die in order to forgive the sins of the entire human race. He’s about to forgive everyone, and so he wants his followers to then go and forgive others who’ve hurt them, who’ve stolen from them, who owe them something. I think that’s a lesson we learn in the story of Jacob and Esau as well. It’s pointing us forward to God’s forgiveness.

It’s a question of what we’ll do with God’s forgiveness. Will we turn around and demand something of others? Will we turn around and refuse to forgive others, or will we take what we’ve experienced and pass it on and share it.

I’ve got a challenge for you to take on today.

Challenge: What have you been forgiven for by others, and by God? Pause there; think of what things you have been forgiven for. Now who owes you something? Who has hurt you? How important is it for you to forgive them? How can you make a plan to do that as soon as possible? To forgive them for what they owe you; to forgive them for how they’ve hurt you. This is never easy so take some time to pray about it. Take some time to consider how you can forgive somebody without hurting them more, without victimizing them. Sometimes you’ll need to ask for forgiveness, or need to give forgiveness secretly, if you know you’re going to to hurt them or victimize them in some way.

This would be something great to discuss with others. To make sure you’re approaching it in a humble and hopeful way, and not in a hurtful way. Take some time to discuss that with others, consider how you’ve been forgiven, and how you can forgive others. Then tomorrow I’ll see you again as we take time to pray and reflect. Bye for now.

  • You can [permalink append=”#comments”]Discuss the Challenge[/permalink] online, or by starting a local discussion group!
  • Are you meeting just once a week with your discussion group?  You can find all of this week’s discussion material in our Weekly Study Guide