Let my vindication come from you; may your eyes see what is right. Psalm 17:2
Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. Romans 12:16-19
Forgiveness doesn’t seem fair. Instead of forgiveness, we’d rather have justice.
The person who caused us pain must be held accountable for their offense.
Our desire for the offender to accept responsibility before we extend forgiveness holds our freedom hostage, unable to live life fully and freely.
Forgiving others without witnessing what we believe to be vindication for the offense feels oppressive and even unjust.
We don’t see forgiveness as liberation; we see it as an escape clause for the offender.
However, extending forgiveness to those who have offended us is a true act of liberation – not for the offender, but for us.
When un-forgiveness remains in our heart, we wound ourselves all over again.
We are bound by our past. It is impossible to walk in freedom when we are shackled to the need to vindicate ourselves.
By understanding the implications forgiveness has on our own lives, we are able to deal with the implications it has on our relationships.
Forgiveness is where freedom is found. His wounds bring us wholeness.
When we separate forgiveness from reconciliation, we can look at forgiveness long enough and close enough to experience the freedom and the healing we find through it.
But, many of us don’t get to this point. Because we don’t know how restoration is going to look, we wonder if forgiveness is even possible.
This is why we must focus on forgiveness first. The restoration of the relationship is secondary.
Forgiveness paves the way to trust but it doesn’t guarantee it. It also doesn’t eliminate the cost or the consequence.
At its core, forgiveness frees us from the need for vengeance and vindication.
We no longer hold the offense against the other person. We wish them no ill will.
There will be some relationships where restoration and reconciliation are unattainable. There are others where boundaries must be established.
Yet, in all cases forgiveness is available.
- Do you view forgiveness as an act of liberation? Why or why not? What makes you answer in the way that you do?
- Where are you seeking vengeance and vindication? Why do you want to be right in this situation?
God, No longer will I demand vengeance. No longer will I seek vindication. No longer will I let past wounds define my present and determine my future. Instead, I will lay the burden of unforgiveness down at Your feet. I will remember that I have been forgiven much and the same grace You extended to me is given to all. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.