“Acquitting the guilty and condemning the innocent—the Lord detests them both.” Proverbs 17:15
Every single person in the world has one thing in common: they have been wounded by others. The Christian world has been preaching the need for forgiveness since its beginnings and now, the secular world is understanding the importance of forgiveness as well. Many secular psychologists are telling people that a key to emotional and mental well being is found in forgiveness.
Forgiveness sounds so easy, but actually many people find it difficult. Here are some reasons some find forgiveness difficult:
1. Forgiveness means I must forget and am therefore likely to see myself abused in the same fashion again.
2. Forgiveness means I am excusing others behavior and labeling it “okay”.
3. Forgiveness means I must trust the offending person again.
4. Forgiveness takes away the offenders accountability for their actions before God.
In essence, forgiveness is none of these things. Forgiveness does not cause us to forget. It actually strengthens our discernment of motives. Forgiveness does not mean we must label someone’s abusive or hurtful behavior as “okay”. You cannot experience true forgiveness without a grasp on what was done wrong. Forgiveness does not mean you must trust an untrustworthy person again. Godly wisdom says we should not put a person in a position of trust that their character cannot support. And, forgiveness does not take away the offender’s accountability for their actions before God. Only their heartfelt repentance can do that.
The scripture in Proverbs 17 states a fact that should bring comfort to us all: God will not acquit someone who is an unrepentant state. This tells me that we can trust God enough to release to God all wrongs committed against us because He will watch over the integrity of right to see that true justice is done.
Many are reluctant to forgive because they hold on to a desire for vengeance. Do you realize that you cannot hold onto a desire for vengeance without making judgments? A desire for vengeance locks the behaviors of our offenders to us “until” this act of vengeance is complete according to our specifications. Therefore, we never get free from what has happened to us.
At the very least, judgments are selfishly motivated. They deify our pain and our need to be vindicated. They exalt our self-righteousness and downplay our weaknesses.
Romans 2:1 says it this way: “You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. so when you, a mere man, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you to repentance? But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when His righteous judgment will be revealed. God ‘will give to each person according to what he has done.'”
God will give to each person according to what he has done. That is a truth that cannot be refuted. Receive its peace in your wounded state. But, the scripture in Proverbs 17 also states that the Lord detest the condemning of the innocent.
Are we removing ourselves from an “innocent” state before God to a guilty state before God by refusing to forgive our offenders? Are we separating ourselves away from God’s kindness meant to comfort us in our pain by refusing his call to repentance for holding on to unforgiveness?
Easter is a season of forgiveness. Much rejoicing will be done over the forgiveness afforded to us through the cross. But, don’t forget: Jesus act of forgiveness was an act of His will and so is your act of forgiveness.
Give yourself an Easter gift this season: release to God those who have hurt you. You can trust Him to handle the details of justice in a completely righteous manner. And, you will receive the freedom from guilt, shame and anger you so desire to see manifest in your own life!