R.T. Kendall opens his book Total Forgiveness, by observing: “Most of us have times in our lives when we are pushed to our limits as to how much we are called to forgive.” We are afraid if we let go of a wrong, justice will not be served. Kendall continues:
When we are bitter, we delude ourselves into thinking that those who hurt us are more likely to be punished as long as we are set on revenge. We are afraid to let go of those feelings. After all, if we don’t make plans to see that justice is done, how will justice be done? We make ourselves believe that it is up to us to keep the offense alive.
The Apostle Paul told the Romans: “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’” (Romans 12:19).
Kendall concludes, “It is also my experience that the quickest way I seem to lose inner peace is when I allow bitterness to reenter my heart. It’s not worth it! I made a decision for inner peace. But I found that I had to carry out that decision by a daily commitment to forgive those who hurt me and to forgive them totally. I, therefore, let them utterly off the hook and resigned myself to this knowledge:
- They won’t get caught or found out.
- Nobody will ever know what they did.
- They will prosper and be blessed as if they had done no wrong.”
So, as Christians, we are forced to choose between the peace of God in our hearts and an on-going vendetta against those who hurt us. Of course, there is more to forgiveness than this, but it will take a week’s worth of meditations to explore Total Forgiveness.
Something to Think About
We’ve all been hurt. People have failed us – even intentionally hurt us. Sadly, this includes some of our Christian family. This is especially true for ministers and their families. One preacher told me about having to literally load up his family and their possessions in the middle of the night and drive away. Another told me about having the front window of his home shot out by a pack of deacons! It’s easy to take up the refrain, “Gloom, despair, and misery on me! If it weren’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all! Gloom, despair, and misery on me!” Think about how learning to forgive can free us from the black hole of depression.
Be a Blessing!