I hate injustice. How sweet it would be to right all the wrongs in this world. How sweet it would be to make all the guilty pay. If it were up to me, I would….
But thank God it's not up to me. Otherwise, God would have had to write about a third of the New Testament through someone other than Paul, because I would have taken Paul out when he was persecuting Christians. I would have taken out a bunch of people in history who ended up making great contributions to the world.
We don't get to judge (in the way we would like to judge), because we can't handle it. We would just botch things up. We would destroy lives worth saving. We would pass judgment on people who still had potential.
To refuse to forgive is essentially reserving the right to condemn. When I refuse to forgive someone, I am reserving my right to execute judgment against him or her at some point in the future. But I don't have the ability to judge fairly because I don't have the right to condemn.
When I hang on to unforgiveness toward another person, I am essentially waiting for a moment in time when I can make that person pay, or when I can watch someone else make him or her pay. I am not concerned about justice from the perspective of all parties concerned; I am only concerned about justice from my perspective.
Please note: Christians do have a right and a responsibility to judge other people. (See John 7:24, Matthew 7:1–5, 1 Corinthians 6:1–8.) But this kind of judgment has no pleasure in it. This kind of judgment is like correcting your child when you would rather be loving on him or her. This kind of judgment is like disciplining an employee or a subordinate who is otherwise great at his or her job. The kind of judgment we are called by the Lord to execute is concerned about restoration—not retribution.
The kind of judgment inspired by unforgiveness is about retribution. It always wants to destroy. It smells of condemnation. It sits in front of the newscast and cheers on as the crooked politician is escorted out of the building in handcuffs. It smiles at hearing bad news about the ex‐husband or the ex‐wife. It finds satisfaction when the high‐and‐mighty preacher gets busted for cheating. It rejoices when the dead‐beat cousin has his car repossessed.
God just can't have us trying to judge the folks we can't forgive. Unforgiveness taints the judging process, and turns it all into a condemnation free‐for‐all.
Can you imagine every Christian in your community having the social and the spiritual authority to pass judgment on their enemies? You're talking anarchy—major anarchy. I believe this is why God is so strong when He says things like:
But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. (Matthew 6:15 NKJV)
From our discussion yesterday, it's very clear that we don't get forgiveness until we give forgiveness. But please try to stay away from questions like: “Am I saved if I hold unforgiveness against someone?” To forgive another person does not make us worthy of salvation; it makes us aware of His goodness.
I just think we are on dangerous ground when our focus is on our eternal security rather than the Lord and Savior who makes it possible. To me, excessive focus on the state of our eternal affairs indicates a neglect of our current state of affairs with God. It's sort of like visiting the rich relative just to find out how our inheritance is performing.
If we are to ever understand the power of the Cross we have to understand that there is no place in God's economy for unforgiveness. Unforgiveness takes pleasure in the death of the wicked. God does not.
As surely as I live, says the Sovereign LORD, I take no pleasure in the death of wicked people. I only want them to turn from their wicked ways so they can live. Turn! Turn from your wickedness, O people of Israel! Why should you die? (Ezekiel 33:11 NLT)
If anybody ever had a right to hold a grudge, it would be the Sovereign LORD. Nobody's ever done to us what they've done to Him. And yet He only wants those who are against Him to turn from their wicked ways so they can live. That should immediately kill our unforgiving nature once and for all.
The Father Himself has given judgment over to the Son.
The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him. Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life. (John 5:22–24 ESV)
We honor the Son by leaving the judgment to Him. We honor the Son by forgiving others in the same manner He has forgiven us. We honor the Son by seeking restoration of people whenever and wherever possible.
I have come as a light to shine in this dark world, so that all who put their trust in me will no longer remain in the dark. I will not judge those who hear me but don't obey me, for I have come to save the world and not to judge it. But all who reject me and my message will be judged on the day of judgment by the truth I have spoken. I don't speak on my own authority. The Father who sent me has commanded me what to say and how to say it. And I know his commands lead to eternal life; so I say whatever the Father tells me to say. (John 12:46–50 NLT)
May we grieve with Jesus over those who reject Him and His message. May we encourage those who deserve judgment to come out of the dark by putting their trust in Jesus.
Forgiveness… maybe, just maybe, the most powerful and empowering force on the planet.
Have a good day,