short accounts

Last fall I had to make the decision to have our family dog of 15 years put to sleep. It was one of the most heart-wrenching decisions I've ever made.

There's a reason why we refer to dogs as "man's best friend." Roger Caras once said, "Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole." I'm a better person for having had our "little buddy." Among other things, he taught me the value of forgiveness. I can recall many times when we butted heads (he never fully accepted that he wasn't the alpha male of the home) and found ourselves doggone mad at each other.

Amazingly, he was always quick to forgive and move on. My dog didn't realize it, but he illustrated something that Paul stressed as essential for human relationships: "Make allowance for each other's faults, and forgive anyone who offends you" (Colossians 3:13). He urged the same thing when he counseled his readers to "live in peace" whenever possible (Romans 12:18).

During what is often referred to as the "Sermon on the Mount," Jesus stressed that we are far better off if we settle our differences quickly (Matthew 5:25). Theologian Frederick Buechner wrote, "To lick your wounds, to smack your lips over grievances long past, to roll over your tongue the prospect of bitter confrontations still to come, to savor the last toothsome morsel of both the pain you are given and the pain you are giving back, in many ways it is a feast for a king. The chief drawback is that what you are wolfing down is yourself. The skeleton at the feast is you." Do you have an unresolved, lingering issue with someone? Get it taken care of quickly. Keep short accounts in relationships. You'll be glad you did. , Jeff Olson
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