Deep within the heart of humanity is a cry for justice. The innocent should not suffer, the guilty should not go free, and evil should not prevail over good. Yet, daily we are confronted with these unfortunate realities of our broken, unjust world, and it can stir within us what we may define as a “righteous anger” that compels us to right the wrongs that run rampant in our society.
At times, the same inclination that propels us toward fairness and justice, pushes us away from the kind of forgiveness that cancels the debt of those who have harmed us in a very personal way. After all, to forgive is to give up our right to settle the score – and when we’ve been hurt, we usually want this more than anything else. When our pain is most intense, we don’t want reconciliation. We want retribution.
So how do we respond when someone is repentant over an offense and genuinely seeks forgiveness? Do we release the issue to the Lord and forgive as we have been forgiven (Col 3:13)? Or do we continue to harbor anger and bitterness?
Some of the injustices inflicted on us are relatively minor, while others may be profoundly life-altering. To be sure, there are times when it is appropriate or necessary to take precautions while processing forgiveness. Regardless of the circumstances, one question begs a reply: Am I willing to trust my Heavenly Father, who is righteous, merciful, and just, to bring resolution to this issue in His own time and way?
If we’re being honest, I think we all have situations we’d much rather handle on our own than give to God. If you find yourself needing to choose between reconciliation and retribution, I’d urge you to prayerfully consider this: Are my acts of retribution able to resolve my situation? How could it make things better? How could it make things worse? What are the potential outcomes of trusting God with the issue and forgiving the person who has wronged me?
Up Ahead on “The Path”
Next week, we will continue to reflect on how to move forward in forgiveness. As always, thanks for reading and sharing The Path of a Peacemaker blog!
Dale Pyne – CEO, Peacemaker Ministries
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