by Neil Anderson
Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord
Forgiveness does not mean that you must tolerate sin. Isabel, a young wife and mother attending one of my conferences, told me of her decision to forgive her mother for continually manipulating her for attention. But Isabel tearfully continued, “She is no different. Am I supposed to let her keep ruining my life?”
No, forgiving someone doesn’t mean that you must be a doormat to their continual sin. I encouraged Isabel to confront her mother lovingly but firmly, and tell her that she would no longer tolerate destructive manipulation. It’s okay to forgive another’s past sins and, at the same time, take a stand against future sins. Forgiving is not a co-dependent activity.
Forgiveness does not demand revenge or repayment for offenses suffered. “You mean I’m just supposed to let them off the hook?” you may argue. Yes, you let them off your hook, realizing that they are not off God’s hook. You may feel like exacting justice, but you are not an impartial judge. God is the just Judge who will make everything right (Romans 12:19). Your job is to extend the mercy of forgiveness and leave judgment up to God.
Forgiveness is agreeing to live with the consequences of another person’s sin. Suppose that someone in your church says, “I have gossiped about you. Will you forgiven me?” You can’t retract gossip any easier than you can put toothpaste back into the tube. You’re going to live with the gossip this person spread about you no matter how you respond to the gossiper.
We are all living with the consequences of another person’s sin: Adam’s. The only real choice we have in the matter is to live in the bondage of bitterness or in the freedom of forgiveness.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, I give up my right to seek revenge or harbor resentment. I want to enjoy the freedom which comes from forgiving others.