Posted by Lisa Lewis Koster - - 0 comments

Being an amateur genealogist, I jumped into a Facebook disagreement on cousins. Specifically, one person said someone was his first cousin once removed while another said the person he was referring to was his second cousin. This is not something easy to wrap your mind around, and the conversation ended with this statement: “I don’t care so much about genealogy and think we shouldn’t refer to anyone we consider family as removed, once, twice, or otherwise.”

Taken in a literal sense, truer words have never been spoken. How often does a person decide they are going to “remove” someone from their family? I can’t think of anything more tragic than for someone to be written off by a family member (or members), yet I personally know of parents who have been cut off by their children and also some children who have been cut off by their parents. Now, I’m not talking about a tough love situation, where the best thing one can do is to stop enabling harmful behavior. I’m talking about unforgiveness; the attitude of “I don’t like something you did, I’m not going to tell you what it was, and I’m not speaking to you any more.”

The church I attend is preaching a sermon series on the Lord’s Prayer, which is found in the book of Matthew, chapter 6, verses 9-13. A few weeks ago we studied verse twelve,

“Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” ~ Matthew 6:12

Read that verse again, slowly. When we pray this prayer, we’re asking God to forgive us the same way we forgive others. Yikes! Can this be true? The short answer is “yes.” There’s no question as to the truth of this statement because it is in the Bible and it was spoken by Jesus himself. His half-brother James said something along the same lines:

“Judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who is not merciful.” ~ James 2:13

I happened to be watching the Detroit Tigers game a few nights ago when Armando Galarraga pitched what should have been a perfect game (and if you knew how much I watch baseball you’d recognize this as a divine appointment.) What an example of grace! No player has ever pitched more than one perfect game, yet Galarraga barely flinched when the umpire made a bad call and cost him what may have been his only opportunity to have his name in the record books. Grace was also returned when, after viewing the instant replay, umpire Jim Joyce apologized to Galarraga for his error. More grace flowed the next day when Joyce walked out onto the field to cheers rather than jeers.

I think sports columnist David Mayo got it right when he said, “we all benefit from forgiving and being forgiven, and the ones to feel sorriest for are the ones incapable of it.”

Father, help me show forgiveness to all, regardless of the circumstances. Help me to remember that no matter how much I forgive, it will never be more than you've forgiven me. Thank you Jesus for paying the penalty for sins - mine and everyone else's.

*For those who are curious, the children of your first cousin would be your first cousins once removed (because they're one generation removed from your generation.) Those children and your children would be second cousins.

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