It was among King David’s lowest moments: His son Absalom was leading a revolution against him. Absalom was a charmer and had convinced many that David was too old _ was ineffective to lead. When Absalom stormed the city with his troops, David decided he would rather be humiliated in retreat than to be involved in a bloody civil war against his own son.
What a horrendous moment that must have been for Israel’s most celebrated king. On the way out of Jerusalem, David must have thought: It can’t get any worse than this. But it did. A man by the name of Shimei taunted David as he fled the city. Shimei stood on a hillside throwing clods of dirt and stones at the king and cursing him, saying: God is finally getting even with you for what you did to King Saul, you bloody traitor! One of David’s men snarled: Let me go up and run that mouthy coward through with a sword. David’s response was incredible. He said: No. Don’t kill him. Let him go. Maybe I’m just getting what I deserve.
Now if that were the end of the story, we could hail David as a merciful man _ how noble to forgive such an offense. Well, David was a great man, but that’s not the end of the story. The memory of that offense festered in David’s mind for years. And on his deathbed about a decade later, David speaks his final words to his son Solomon. “Remember, you have with you Shimei son of Gera, the Benjamite from Bahurim, who called down bitter curses on me the day I went to Mahanaim. When he came down to meet me at the Jordan, I swore to him by the Lord: ‘I will not put you to death by the sword.’ But now, do not consider him innocent. You are a man of wisdom; you will know what to do to him. Bring his gray head down to the grave in blood.” (1 Kings 2:8)
That story is a classic example of a huge problem that all too many Christians get trapped in _ resentment. There is a much better course to take called love. In 1st Corinthians 13:5 we read, “Love does not keep a record of wrongs.” After reading that I realized that it’s not a matter of if we will be wronged but a matter of what we will do when whatever the wrong is happens.
Well, per Jesus, the greatest commands are to love God and love people. Now there is something that is critical to loving people and not allowing resentment to take residence on our lives when “wrongs” occur _ it’s called forgiveness. Forgiveness is not a matter of whether you feel like it or not. It’s a matter of obedience. Mark 11:25 records these words from Jesus: “When you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”
So as Paul put it in Colossians 3, “As God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved __ clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” (Colossians 3:12-14)