Many of us love a good revenge story. In movies, books, and TV shows, we love the story of someone who takes matters into their own hands and gets back at the bad guy—we want to see the bad guys get what they deserve. Many of us have been on the receiving end of bullying or mistreatment, and we know what it’s like to want revenge.
But what happens when we’re the ones doing the bullying or mistreating? Well then we may be tempted to think it wasn’t a big deal. We may come up with all sorts of excuses and reasons to explain away what we did: “I was just joking. I was tired. You’re overreacting.” Or maybe we try to justify what we did: “Well, I wouldn’t have hurt them if they hadn’t hurt me first!” We may want revenge when we’re the ones who have been hurt, but when we hurt somebody else, we might try to explain it away.
Do you see the problem here? We’re all hypocrites! In our sinfulness and brokenness, we have one standard that we apply to others, but we fail to live by our own standard. How often do we insist on punishment for others’ sin but excuse our own sin?
In Christ, we’ve been forgiven a tremendous debt. Jesus has wiped away our debt of sin through His death and resurrection, and He calls us to show that forgiveness to others. We see this in Matthew 18:21-35, when Jesus tells a parable where one servant had been forgiven of a HUGE debt—millions of dollars. But he still refused to forgive a fellow servant who owed him a much smaller debt. When we refuse to forgive others, we are acting like that first servant.
If you know Jesus, you’ve been forgiven, and His Holy Spirit lives in you, empowering you to forgive. Jesus knows that forgiving others isn’t easy. It’s normal to want revenge. But He showed us a better way. Even when He was being nailed to the cross, He cried out, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). That is amazing love. • Jacob Bier
• Forgiving someone doesn’t mean saying that what they did is okay or even being in close relationship with them. When people sin, they need healing, and forgiving someone means you desire healing and wholeness for that person. How does Jesus, the ultimate Healer, enable us to desire healing for those who hurt us?
Peter…asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?” “No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven!” Matthew 18:21-22 (NLT)