Second Best

Reading #3 | July 9, 2024

When I was a child, my sister and I used to argue all the time about everything. We were so different! Part of the competition between us was because she skipped third grade, but I didn’t. So, I always felt second best.

We argued about all sorts of things—even little things. I loved chocolate. If we were both given a chocolate bar, mine was gone in a few minutes. She would take days to eat hers, teasing me that she still had chocolate, and of course, refusing to share. I had eaten mine! I often held a grudge against my sister.

In our passage of Jacob and Esau, Jacob is born second. Growing up, always second best, it was Jacob and Esau’s mother Rebecca who suggested that Jacob steal Esau’s blessing and birthright. And because that is what happened, Jacob went on to be renamed Israel and to found a great nation.

Grudges are easy things to keep. When we feel put down, treated as less, or feel we are not getting what we deserve, it is easy to hold a grudge. But in the end, who does that hurt? Esau never forgot his grudge and lived his entire life focused on his anger. In Hebrews 12:17, we are told that Esau found no place for repentance. He didn’t take the time, opportunity, occasion, or power that he had to make things right.

But what about us? Jesus told the disciples in John 20:23, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”

This story reminds us that retaining sins hurts us. We are to forgive. When you forgive someone’s sins, both you and the person you forgive are set free, never looking back, never keeping score, starting each new day as God intends, a fresh start for you both. You are both truly free. But if you hold onto someone’s sins, neither of you is free, you both are in bondage. And what good is that to you or to them? None whatsoever.

Forgiving sins is the only thing that heals the broken, competitive, scorekeeping, one-upmanship way of humanity that makes everyone miserable.

Peggy Terhune is a lay preacher and lives in Asheboro with her husband Bob and their four dogs. She works full time as the President/CEO of Monarch, where she focuses on social justice for those with mental illness, substance use disorder, and intellectual/developmental disabilities. She enjoys knitting and reading and spending time with her 7 grown children and her ten grandchildren

To Consider

Who in your life are you holding a grudge against?
Whose sins have you retained that needs forgiveness?


Forgiving God, we have only to ask, and you grant your forgiveness. Stop our hardened hearts from resentment and anger, Lord, and help us to forgive those who have wronged us. Amen.

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