“For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” Matthew 6:14-15
My mother died on Mother’s Day. I was only a child when she died. It’s been over forty years now, but I still miss her. I suppose that as long as I am on this earth, I always will.
When I think back on that time, which I inevitably do every year around Mother’s Day, one thing sticks out in my mind. I remember on the day my mother died, family members came to our home and divided up her things. Everybody wanted a family heirloom following Momma’s death. Since I was just a child, I was left out. Nothing of my mother’s was given to me. There was, however, one item that I really wanted – Momma’s cookie jar.
The cookie jar was nothing special. It wasn’t an antique. It wasn’t valuable. But, like a treasure chest, so many of my most precious childhood memories were locked away inside the cookie jar. Momma always kept my favorite treats inside – Nutter Butters, Nilla Wafers, Nabisco Famous Cookies, Keebler Cremes, and my all-time favorite – Momma’s Homemade Snickerdoodles. We didn’t have much money and times were tough when I was a kid, but there were always delicious goodies in Momma’s cookie jar.
I watched as an aunt walked out the door with the cookie jar. I thought, “That should be mine. I hate her for taking it.” As time passed, those feelings grew, and I resented her. So, I avoided my aunt. One of the few family ties in my life was broken over a cookie jar.
Years later, I was in the kitchen with my wife, Amanda. She said, “I want to get a cookie jar for the kitchen counter.” When she said that, I told her about Momma’s cookie jar and what it meant to me. Amanda lovingly asked, “Why don’t we try to find one just like it?” I thought that was a great idea. So, we logged on to eBay and ordered a cookie jar identical to Momma’s.
A few months went by and my cousin came to visit. She noticed the cookie jar and asked about it. I said, “It’s a replacement for the one Momma had when I was growing up.” I didn’t know it, but my cousin had the original at her house. Not long after, she gave it to me.
The Lord Jesus Christ once said, “But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6:15). For years, I refused to forgive a relative for something as silly as a cookie jar. Besides, my aunt didn’t even know that I wanted it in the first place. Looking back now, I realize how childish I was to be so angry and upset. Too many years were wasted being out of fellowship with God and family. Too many years were wasted living in a state of bitterness and unforgiveness.
How many “cookie jars” are there in our lives? How many things, as insignificant as a ceramic cookie jar, in light of eternity, separate us from fellowship with God? How much does a lack of forgiveness keep us from fellowship with other people?
The point is: Let go of your “cookie jar.” I can tell you it’s not worth hanging on to. Forgive and find forgiveness.
It’s what your mom would want you to do.
James Collins is the senior pastor of First Southern Baptist Church. Sunday Service starts tomorrow at 11 am. For more information, go www.fortscottfsbc.com.