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Forgive, don't remind

Forgive someone, and you will strengthen your friendship. Keep reminding them, and you will destroy it. 10 Smart people learn more from a single correction than fools learn from a hundred beatings. (Proverbs 17:9-10 ERV)
Some of us find ourselves facing opportunities on occasion in which we know someone we care about deeply needs a little correction in their life - the choices they have been making aren't all that wise or they are going to take them into places they shouldn't dabble. There are times when we want to stop them in their tracks, but we must be very cautious not to over-step our bounds in the relationship. In those moments, we are caught in a hard place - we want to save them the hardship of the wrong choice, but we also know there are times when the individual just isn't prepared to listen to us no matter how imploring our arguments to the contrary might be.
Here are a few thoughts for us today:
1. Forgiveness might just be the ticket that changes someone's course. We might not think it, but there are times when we forgive the other person's failure, wrong steps, or plain ignorance and they find release, or their "way back" as a result of that step of forgiveness. We may not be able to stop the actions of the other individual, but we can extend the grace of forgiveness, not "overlooking" their missteps, but bringing them under the blood of Jesus, not holding those missteps against them. Grace draws them back - holding it against them because you "warned them" of the results of their actions ahead of time pushes them further away.
2. None of us wants to be reminded of our failures, but there are times when a gentle reminder of where certain past actions have landed us can keep us from making the same mistakes repeatedly. It isn't that we throw them back in anyone's face, but we use the lessons learned from those times to keep us each focused on the right path now. For example, when my kids were growing up, I tried to teach them to have a little bit saved up for those unexpected emergencies, or opportunities that came their way. There were times when they would have spent it all, having nothing for the next venture in life, then they found themselves sitting home, missing out on something they might have wanted to participate in. I simply reminded them of the wisdom of creating the "cushion" that allowed for these opportunities. I didn't have to rub their noses in their misspending, I just let the consequences of their actions help them learn the lesson.
3. We may want what is best for each other, but never forget that we each make our own choices in life. We can guide and advise, but we don't control the rudder of the other person's ship. We can pray for them, stand along side them, support them in hard times, and create a loving environment in which they can find grace and hope. We cannot always rescue, for sometimes the rescue someone needs is best delivered by the hand of God reaching out to them where they find themselves. It may not be easy to let God reach them, but it might save them lots more falls into that same pit! Just sayin!


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