The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger ["cook"] and abounding in mercy. (Psalms 103:8 NKJV)

The rain-soaked cardboard box sits on the end of the porch. My first reaction is, "What idiot left that box there?" (I live alone, so I know what idiot left it there — one of my cats!)

As I check the contents, I realize the heavy glass and metal top will be okay, but upside-down, exposed to the foul weather and full of rainwater is the electric heating unit. When I unloaded the car the previous day, I neglected to carry in the last item.

I have messed up, big time. The electric slow cooker is nearly new ... very expensive ... and borrowed.

I am upset with myself and nervous about Mother's reaction, but I call her and confess that my negligence has ruined her valued appliance. I would most likely react in a squeaky, shocked voice, "You did what?" I expect the same from her. Instead, she calmly tells me, "Don't worry about it. These things happen."

Her response doesn't salvage the electric cooker or absolve me of the guilt of negligence. It certainly isn't the reaction I deserve, but it is the reaction of a loving parent who has learned from experience that her daughter is absent-minded and imperfect. It's a response of forgiveness.

It reminds me of our Heavenly Father's reaction when we humbly and honestly confess our negligence, petty grievances, or titanic screw-ups to him. He doesn't scream, "That's it, no more chances for you!" He doesn't announce it to the local tabloid, nor does he take back the blessings he has bestowed upon us.

God created us, so he knows we are weak, forgetful, shortsighted and often short-tempered. Sometimes we are downright unlovable.

God is merciful.
But God is merciful. He loves us, he forgives us, and he expects us to pass that love and forgiveness on to others. He is the original "slow cooker." As we grow in grace and faith, we learn to exhibit the same "slow cooker" character.

So how should we respond to a humble confession of a mistake by another? The same way my mother did; we should respond with, "I forgive you."

Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. (Colossians 3:13 NIV)