Last night as I watched Nature on PBS, I watched male deers fight as they were vying for position in the herd. The most dominant one crashing his huge antlers into the antlers of his competition. Although violent to watch, most battles are over with minor injuries and the dominant male claims his harem. In the Alps, where this was filmed, the rutting season ends and snow covers the hillsides. But come spring, the snow melts uncovering the few casualties of the rut. Buried beneath the snow lies the remains of two males, who have starved to death, their horns locked together forever.
As I pondered this grizzly scene I remembered my step father saying to me as we fought about something long ago "You don't want to lock horns with me!" Even then I knew it had something to do with butting heads. But as I look back now, a new layer of meaning is uncovered--the fights, although a natural part of life, become dangerous and life threatening when we stubbornly refuse to forgive. Not forgiving keeps us in bondage until our death to the one we feel wronged by.
God calls us to forgive, as Jesus told Peter in Matthew 18:21 "Lord how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?"
Jesus answered "I tell you, not seven times, but seven times seven." He tells us that knowing that to forgive enables us to be forgiven. Forgiveness is freedom.