Genesis 33: 1 Jacob looked up and there was Esau, coming with his four hundred men; so he divided the children among Leah, Rachel and the two maidservants. 2 He put the maidservants and their children in front, Leah and her children next, and Rachel and Joseph in the rear. 3 He himself went on ahead and bowed down to the ground seven times as he approached his brother. 4 But Esau ran to meet Jacob and embraced him; he threw his arms around his neck and kissed him. And they wept. 5 Then Esau looked up and saw the women and children. "Who are these with you?" he asked. Jacob answered, "They are the children God has graciously given your servant." 6 Then the maidservants and their children approached and bowed down. 7 Next, Leah and her children came and bowed down. Last of all came Joseph and Rachel, and they too bowed down. 8 Esau asked, "What do you mean by all these droves I met?" "To find favor in your eyes, my lord," he said. 9 But Esau said, "I already have plenty, my brother. Keep what you have for yourself." 10 "No, please!" said Jacob. "If I have found favor in your eyes, accept this gift from me. For to see your face is like seeing the face of God, now that you have received me favorably. 11 Please accept the present that was brought to you, for God has been gracious to me and I have all I need." And because Jacob insisted, Esau accepted it. 12 Then Esau said, "Let us be on our way; I'll accompany you."
I love the story of Jacob and Esau. Twin brothers who've long fueded, Jacob tricks Esau into giving up his birthright and then tricks his father into giving it specifically to him. Because of his actions Jacob flees, and carries that guilt out with him like a saddlesack.
But I think what Jacob says to Esau is crucial to understanding Jacobs mindset. Esau received Jacob warmly even though Jacob had greatly wronged him and he exclaims "For to see your face is like seeing the face of God, now that you have received me favorably." In other words, Esau brought the love of God to Jacob through his merciful forgiveness of past grievances.
Part of being beautiful is learning to be the face of God to those that do not know Him or those like Jacob who have wrestled with Him. If you come from an unbelieving family or friends you may be the first way they meet God, your actions can help speak to them of who God really is. So often those who do not know God expect to meet an angry God, as Jacob expected to meet an angry Esau. But God's wrath was already poured out on His own Son. This is what we must show people. We are in a way ambassadors for God's name every time that we step out that door. God is merciful and we need to show that mercy to others.
It's easy I know, even as a believer, to hold onto to judgements, bitterness, hurts, and wounds. They become a permanent part of our outfits, accessories we never take off. But learning to be merciful, to forgive, is also just as much about the person forgiving as it is about the offender. Not only are you releasing a burden off of them, but off of yourself.
Bitterness erodes beauty, little by little, and eventually what's on the inside will show on the outside. That's not how God ever intended us to live. Bitterness and anger will eat at your peace. Forgiveness is one of God's prescriptions for living longer and staying beautiful inside and out.
Choose to forgive today.