As Pastor Steve shared with us this past Sunday, when we are wronged, it can often be hard to let go of that offense. But as followers of Jesus, we are called to forgive, just as God has already forgiven us. And, it turns out that when we forgive… it not only releases the offender from their guilt... forgiveness also releases us.
We all want wrongs to be set right.
We are all made in the image of God, and therefore, when we are faced with an injustice, or when we are hurt by someone else, we all naturally desire for that wrong to be righted. We all have an internal desire for justice and for fairness. And this can lead to three different responses:
We can attempt to set things right ourselves.
When we see that a wrong has been done, we often feel the desire to take matters into our own hands. We want to fight fire with fire... "an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth..." If someone has wronged me, my knee-jerk reaction might be to respond in kind. But this approach often leads to a cycle of escalation, resulting in a never-ending feud that continues to worsen over time.
We can bury our true feelings.
On the other hand, many choose to suppress their hurt when they are wronged. Rather than openly dealing with things, we often choose to "stuff" our true feelings. We put on a false pretense that everything is okay. But this approach also has a way of leaking out into other areas of our life, doing far more harm in the long run.
We can forgive by trusting it to God.
The other option available to us is to forgive. But forgiveness, from a Christian perspective, is not merely about "letting it go", or pretending that it never happened. Forgiveness, for those who follow Jesus, begins with putting our trust in God. We trust that God alone knows all the details. We trust that God alone has the ability to judge in full righteousness. We trust that God can and will set all things right. And so, we are able to let go of our hurt, and give it over to God, knowing that He will be able to deal with it far better than we can.
We all want things to be set right. We all want every wrong to be corrected. But we cannot accomplish that ourselves, and it doesn't help to simply look the other way. The best approach is to put our full trust in a loving God, who promises to reconcile all things to Himself. Nothing will be hidden, all will one day be revealed. Forgiveness is possible... and we forgive, by learning to trust.
May we walk in the Image of God this week!