Forgiveness is hard…very hard.
But when we forgive, we are set free from bitterness, anger and the need to “do something” to find justice.
When someone hurts us because of sinful choices, we don’t have to hold on to those things for one simple reason: the ultimate sin is toward God Himself. When we live in sin toward others, we break God’s law. That’s serious business. I have never written a universal moral law, neither have you, but God has done that. That’s why David could say, “Against You, You only, have I sinned and done what is evil in Your sight” (Ps. 51:4). David’s sin, even though he killed a man to cover an adulterous relationship, was against God first and foremost.
At times, we can take the same idea and twist it to our own liking. You might have heard someone say, “Since it’s God I have sinned against, I must ask forgiveness from Him only, not the person I hurt. If God forgives me, I don’t need to worry about making things right with someone else.”
In approaching our sin in that manner, we sin yet again.
When we hurt others, and have not made it right with the offended, we are commanded to attempt to reconcile before we can worship properly (Matt. 5:23-24).
If I have not sought forgiveness from someone I have offended, then I am not right with God. Asking for forgiveness costs; to avoid seeking forgiveness costs far more. We must apologize to others for our sin that injures, seek forgiveness and make restitution when needed and possible, even though the heaviest issue is our sin against God Himself.
Which brings us to a frightening point…
Since all sin is ultimately against God, then He decides how to deal with the offender and make things right. God’s grace and love do not give us a blank check to sin as we wish with no consequence. There will always be consequences for sin.
“But wait,” some might say. “Jesus paid for all my sins. I won’t have to deal with any consequences for any of my wrongs. If I have asked Him to forgive me, they are erased.”
Believers have escaped eternal punishment, but must face temporal chastening.
And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons (Heb. 12:5-8).
If God never disciplines you for sin, yet you claim to know Him, the passage above should make you reconsider your standing before Him. He may wait, be patient with you and allow you to go your own way until you get miserable, but He won’t allow one of His kids to continue in sin indefinitely without discipline. If that is where you find yourself, you are likely not one of His.
Even if someone continues for a long time without any difficulty, God will deal with things in His way and in His time. I personally have had to turn a person completely over to God to deal with as He sees fit. His way of dealing with people is perfect. No one gets away with anything.
We must turn our hurts over to Him.
We must place the offender in His hands.
We must trust Him in this.
Forgiveness is an act of faith.
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).