The million-dollar home sat high, intimidating all the peons below. The little blue volkswagon turned into the driveway and started up the half-mile hill.
"Why are we here again?" Jim asked.
"Because Rick is my brother and he invited us." Cindy sighed. They had this conversation every time they came.
"You mean he invited you. He can't stand me. Insults me every chance he gets. My job. My ability to provide for my family. Our home. Our car…"
"Come on,honey, relax. It's been practically six months since we've heard from Rick. He says he has some news to share."
"Probably just signed another billion dollar deal. Wants to rub it in our noses."
Cindy looked over at Jim, saw his jaw twitching anxiously. "He's not trying to insult you. He just doesn't understand our life - our faith. I guess you could say he's ignorant."
"I could say he's a lot more than ignorant. He's obnoxious, demeaning, insulting, rude-"
Cindy cut him off. "Stop! He may be all of those things sometimes but he's still my brother. You're just as bad as he is." She turned and looked out the window. Neither spoke as Jim stopped in the circular drive. They climbed out and waited while the valet squeezed his six-foot frame into the compact car and pulled away. The cold air blended with the air between them.
Inside, they handed their coats to the doorman. "You might want to check your attitude here too," Cindy said under her breath. Jim cursed under his.
They found Rick in the dining room, chatting with an older gentleman. Cindy hurried over to say hello. When she turned around, Jim was gone.
"He must have gone to get a drink," Cindy said, wondering if that was true or if Jim had gone into hiding until the party was over. "How have you been?"
"Oh sis, I have something great to share with you. I wanted to tell you and Jim together but I can't wait. The past six months have changed my life. I'll fill you in on all the details later but the main thing is I have accepted Jesus Christ into my heart."
"Big brother, you have made my day! My week! My year! If you only knew how long I've been praying for this!" Tears sprang to Cindy's eyes and she pulled Rick into a huge hug.
Their joy was quickly dampened.
"SO…." Jim said loudly, entering the dining room. "Rick! BROTHER! How have you been? You haven't changed a bit! Still sporting the rolex, the armani suits and the hair transplant, I see!"
Rick looked at Cindy, confusion etched on his face. Cindy stood helplessly next to her brother. Now she was the one who wanted to hide as the other guests gawked at their impromptu entertainment for the evening.
"You know, you could probably feed a whole country with that spread on the table. Too bad you're too busy feeding a bunch of other rich snobs instead. They won't eat it anyway - their personal trainers would have a fit! I may not be as rich as you are but I have everything that truly matters."
"Except your dignity," whispered Cindy.
The three of them sat in the living room. Jim hung his head in shame as Rick explained how he had accepted Jesus Christ into his life and that he had invited them over to apologize for being such a jerk in the past.
"I know there have been many times when I insulted you and I'm sorry. My only excuse is that I didn't know better. But with God's help, I'm learning. Will you forgive me?"
Cindy waited for her husband's response. She hadn't realized Jim had allowed so much bitterness to build up toward her brother. Tonight, he had tried to protect himself from being hurt again by attacking Rick first. Unfortunately, he ended up becoming the very thing he hated. And in front of all of Rick's new friends from church.
Jim looked up, tears welling up in his eyes. "Like you said, Rick, you didn't know any better. But I did. So who is the one who needs forgiveness?"
The two men shook hands and Cindy smiled - all the way to the Volkswagon. Jim forgot to open her door for her. She could have been insulted. She chose to blow it off instead.
"A fool is quick-tempered, but a wise person stays calm when insulted." Proverbs 12:16 (NLT)