Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

Ephesians 4:32

Growing up as a kid my family always had at least one dog. I still have a great love of dogs. We currently have four now! So it makes sense that one of my favorite books growing up was about a dog; a big red dog named Clifford. Clifford was different from other dogs because he was so big, sometimes he appeared around 25 feet tall! And one little book about a ginormous dog led to book after book, a TV series, and even talk of a feature length movie until Clifford’s creator died in 2014. Clifford captured the imagination of generations of kids for one big reason. Oh sure, he was big. But unlike other fictional dogs that could talk, drive cars, or rescue the day like Lassie, Clifford was just a regular old dog that did dog things, like fetch things he wasn’t asked to fetch…like cars! So what was the big universal reason Clifford captivated kids for 50 years? He was clumsy, accidentally getting into trouble, not sure how to handle his body in different situations, and in every story Clifford was forgiven.

That’s right, kids saw themselves in the stories and they loved seeing the tenderhearted endings of Clifford’s family hugging a small part of him or them laughing as he licked them straight off the ground. There is power in understanding others and offering kindness when they are expecting judgment. Part of growing in faithfulness is remembering how God gave you forgiveness and then offering it to others. A big red dog probably wishes he weren’t so big most days. Just like Clifford, we all long for a kind, tenderhearted, and forgiving master to encourage us to grow, not in size but, in faithfulness. The good news is we have a Heavenly Father just like that. And He calls us to treat others the same.

Questions to ponder

Can you think of a dog character in a book, cartoon, or movie that you enjoyed as a kid? Who was it and was the dog portrayed more like a dog or a person?

What was something you got in trouble for when you were younger that was accidental; did you break or ruin something? How did you feel about it?

Who is someone that you’ve had a hard time being kind to that you need to grow in faithfulness by showing them kindness?

Share your faith journey!