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{Forgiveness} Make No Mistake, Justice Will Be Served.

Posted on: April 18th, 2013 by Laurie Coombs 1 Comment

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I’ve written about misconceptions about forgiveness before. But I believe one of the largest hindrances to forgiveness is a misconception that stems from childhood.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve negotiated peace between two children who are mad at one another. Regardless of what caused the issue, our peace talk usually goes something like this:

Me: “Tell her you’re sorry.”

Child (usually one of my daughters): “I’m sorry.”

The other child: “It’s okay.”

But it’s not okay. Many children are told by their parents (as I mistakenly did as a new parent) to respond to an apology by telling the other child that it’s okay.

But it’s not okay to bite one another. It’s not okay to hit one another. Simply put, it’s not okay to sin against one another. And when we tell children to say “it’s okay” in this context, we are not teaching them forgiveness, but instead, we are teaching them to accept the offenses that are committed against them.

I believe it is this teaching that makes us feel like forgiveness lets the offender off the hook. And it may be why many refuse to forgive.

When I was working toward forgiveness with Anthony, the man who murdered my dad, my sister (among many others) couldn’t understand what I was doing.

“It’s like you’re saying what he did is okay,” she kept saying.

“No,” I told her, “I’m not saying what Anthony did is okay. It will never be okay! What he did was beyond wrong, but ultimately, God tells us to forgive, so we must forgive.”

I went on to explain that God is the ultimate judge. We are not. [Tweet that] And when God asks us to forgive, He is asking us to release the offender over to Him that ultimate justice may be served. [Tweet that]

When we refuse to forgive, we are in our own small way taking justice into our own hands, enacting our own wrath and anger upon the offender. But we were never created to bear this heavy burden. After a while, this anger turns to bitterness which imprisons us and poisons our souls. But forgiveness releases us from this prison and frees us to live with peace.

Romans 12:19 says, “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.'”

Rest assured, we serve a just God. And He will see to it that justice is done. [Tweet that]

One way or another, the sins committed against you (like the sins you commit) will be reconciled. Either your offender, lacking saving faith, will take the eternal punishment of sin upon himself, or if he is a follower of Christ, his sins were paid for on the cross.

Either way, justice will be served.

So, instead of intently holding onto your offenses, allow Jesus to take them, freeing you to live the life He died for you to have. Romans 12:21 tells us, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

Stop allowing your lack of forgiveness overcome you.

Stop allowing your past to cast its shadow upon your present. [Tweet that]

Release your anger to God.

Forgive.

And know, without a doubt, that justice will be served.

{Justice will be served.}

Question: What’s stopping you from forgiving? How does this truth change the way you view forgiveness? Share in the comments.

  • Fennik

    As a victim of clergy sexual abuse, I’ve found myself struggling the most with forgiving church members who injure others (unintentionally) with their misconceptions of forgiveness. Or when the church covers up abuse. Odd as it sounds, it’s been much easier to forgive the unrepentent perpetrator than it has been to forgive the church!

    The church would be much healthier if we realized that forgiveness is not a cookie cutter “Say with me- I forgive xyz!”. For me, it has looked radically different depending on the persons involved. For the perpetrator of the abuse, God asked me to hand him over and leave it at that. For the perpetrator’s wife, I felt God pull me to forgive unconditionally without reconciliation, and pray for her to escape the abuse. For my home church, forgiveness and reconciliation of their mismanagement was a 4 month long process that required us to work our way through Jesus’ instructions about resolving conflict. For other random individuals who meant well but blundered, forgiveness had to be granted unconditionally. Some I talked to, others I didn’t.

    I guess my struggle atm is coming to terms with the fact that some sins require a long term commitment to forgive. And it takes effort. A lot of effort. And it requires being vulnerable over and over again.

    If only forgiveness was as simple as the church makes it sound!