“But I tell you:
Love your enemies
and pray for those who persecute you”
An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth might be good justice but they do not heal and restore relationships. Anger, violence and vengeance may be satisfying to think about but become self-destructive and diminishing. In the end they lock us in a bondage, from which it can be extraordinarily difficult to escape, and affect the lives of all around us.
By comparison forgiveness is healing. It sets us free from spiritual, mental and emotional subjection to the persecutors. It releases us from the anger, fear and desire for vengeance that can oppress and distort our lives and other relationships. It opens the door to healing and to a new life and a new way of living. Jesus first words from the cross were ‘Father forgive them’ – and they set Him free to die as their saviour and not as their victim or opponent.
To forgive is not to say that the hurt and violence do not matter. They matter very much indeed and should not have occurred. However when we forgive we are actually handing the whole matter over to God who will deal with it in His own time and with complete justice. And any retribution involved then comes not from us with our distorting passions but from the God of justice and truth.
“Do not take revenge, my friends,
but leave room for God’s wrath,
for it is written:
“It is mine to avenge;
I will repay,”
says the Lord”
Forgiveness may not be easy and may take time and prayer before it is fully released in us – but the healing it brings to us and our lives is a wonderful blessing.
Who have I not forgiven – including myself. Will I now?
Father please fill me with Your love and help me to forgive – to say the words and to let them so transform the attitude of my heart that the forgiveness will set me free, even if it takes time. Amen.