(Jesus said) "Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven." Luke 6:37
I have a lot of sins.
Listening to the groans of those around me, my joke telling is the worst of those sins.
Maybe so, but I'm going to sin boldly and tell a story recently given to me by a 90-year-old lady.
The story she shared begins in a time when it was customary for a husband and wife to visit with the pastor on Saturday if they wished to go to Communion on Sunday. It was during such a visit that the wife said, "Pastor, we are living in a wicked land where sin is on every hand. I have had a terrible fight with the old devil all week long."
Hearing what his wife had just said, her previously silent husband stirred himself and replied, "She can call me the 'old devil' if she wants, but not everything wrong is my fault. She can be tough to live with, too."
Get it? You see, the wife was talking about the devil and the husband thought . . . well, now you know why they call my stories "sinful."
All of this is my way of getting to this question: "Have you been having a tough time with the old devil in your life?"
No, I don't mean the devil, but other people in your life who give you a devilish time. Most of us know somebody who has habits that drive us crazy, who send us up a wall, who make us act . . . well, make us act less than Christian. Now, it's possible they really are as devilish as you think.
But it's also possible we might be hard to get along with, too. To the best of my knowledge, every one of the tens of thousands who are reading this devotion is a transgressor.
If our wrongs don't upset other people, they certainly are not pleasing to the Lord.
This is why all of us still need to come to the Lord and say, "Because of the forgiveness Jesus has won for me, Lord, be merciful to me a sinner" and, at the same time, it would be proper to ask for His help in forgiving others.
It's a help He will give. After all, because of His Son's sacrifice, the perfect God has forgiven us.
From a devotion originally written for "By the Way"
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, forgive me and help me forgive others. Help me to reflect the love I have received from Jesus to those who may not seem to be especially lovable. In His Name. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries