Bible Reading of the Day: Read Luke 6:36-38.

Verse of the Day: “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful” (Luke 6:36, NIV).

Lee bounced a beach ball on the floor between her legs as she sat in front of the television watching cartoons.

Lee’s baby-sitter, Mrs. Hastings, came into the room and sat beside her, groaning as she crossed her legs. “Your little sister’s trying to put a puzzle together,” she said. “I thought you might like to help her.”

“No,” Lee said.

Mrs. Hastings frowned. “You’ve forgiven your sister for breaking your keyboard, haven’t you?”

Lee shrugged. “I don’t know.”

“I see,” Mrs. Hastings said. She reached into her pocket and pulled out a dollar bill. “Let’s play a little game, Lee. I’m going to hold this dollar bill like this.” She stretched the dollar bill tight between her hands and held them out in front of her. “Now, I want you to hold that beach ball with both hands.”

Lee squeezed the ball tightly between both palms.

“Now,” Mrs. Hastings said. “I’ll give you this money if you can take hold of both ends of this dollar bill while you hold tightly onto that beach ball. OK?”

Lee looked at her hands, then at the dollar bill. She moved her hands-and the beach ball—closer to the money.

“I can’t,” Lee said.

Mrs. Hastings nodded. “What if you let go of the beach ball? Could you grab both ends of the dollar bill then?”

Lee dropped the beach ball onto the floor and reached out for the dollar bill. She gripped both ends of the money, and Mrs. Hastings gripped both of Lee’s hands. She held Lee’s hands as she spoke. “You see, you couldn’t grab the money if you held onto the ball. And you won’t be able to fully receive forgiveness for the wrong things you do unless you let go of your unforgiving feelings toward your sister.”

Mrs. Hastings released Lee’s hands and let her take the money. “You know it’s right to forgive your sister, don’t you, Lee?”

Lee nodded.

“But even though you know what’s right, you haven’t been doing it, have you?”

Lee shook her head. She watched Mrs. Hastings walk out of the room, then turned toward the television. But suddenly, she didn’t feel like watching cartoons anymore. She was in the mood to put a puzzle together.

TO DISCUSS: How is forgiveness related to mercy? Do you ever have trouble forgiving others? Do you need to express forgiveness to anyone?

TO PRAY: “Lord, we need your help to forgive others. Help us to cling to forgiveness rather than to bitterness.”