Romans 12:19-21 Don't insist on getting even; that's not for you to do. "I'll do the judging," says God. "I'll take care of it." (20) Our Scriptures tell us that if you see your enemy hungry, go buy that person lunch, or if he's thirsty, get him a drink. Your generosity will surprise him with goodness. (21) Don't let evil get the best of you; get the best of evil by doing good.
In this day of lawsuits and incessant demands for legal rights, Paul's command sounds almost impossible. When someone hurts you deeply, instead of giving him what he deserves, Paul says to befriend him. Why does Paul tell us to forgive our enemies? (1) Forgiveness may break a cycle of retaliation and lead to mutual reconciliation. (2) It may make the enemy feel ashamed and change his or her ways. (3) By contrast, repaying evil for evil hurts you just as much as it hurts your enemy. Even if your enemy never repents, forgiving him or her will free you of a heavy load of bitterness.
Forgiveness involves both attitudes and actions. If you find it difficult to feel forgiving toward someone who has hurt you, try responding with kind actions. If appropriate, tell this person that you would like to heal your relationship. Lend a helping hand. Send him or her a gift. Smile at him or her. Many times you will discover that right actions lead to right feelings.
I love reading Max Lucado. Please allow me to share with you today an excerpt from his book "Facing Your Giants" that goes perfectly with what I am trying to say today.
Some years ago a Rottweiler attacked our golden retriever puppy at a kennel. The worthless animal climbed out of its run and into Molly's and nearly killed her. He left her with dozens of gashes and a dangling ear. I wrote a letter to the dog's owner, urging him to put the dog to sleep.
But when I showed the letter to the kennel owner, she begged me to reconsider. "What that dog did was horrible, but I'm still training him. I'm not finished with him yet."
God would say the same about the Rottweiler who attacked you. "What he did was unthinkable, unacceptable, inexcusable, but I'm not finished yet."
Your enemies still figure into God's plan. Their pulse is proof: God hasn't given up on them. They may be out of God's will, but not out of his reach. You honor God when you see them, not as his failures, but as his projects.
God occupies the only seat on the supreme court of heaven. He wears the robe and refuses to share the gavel. For this reason Paul wrote, "Don't insist on getting even; that's not for you to do. 'I'll do the judging,' says God. 'I'll take care of it' " (Rom. 12:19 MSG).
Revenge removes God from the equation. Vigilantes displace and replace God. "I'm not sure you can handle this one, Lord. You may punish too little or too slowly. I'll take this matter into my hands, thank you."
Is this what you want to say? Jesus didn't. No one had a clearer sense of right and wrong than the perfect Son of God. Yet, "when he suffered, he didn't make any threats but left everything to the one who judges fairly" (1 Pet. 2:23 GOD'S WORD).
Only God assesses accurate judgments. We impose punishments too slight or severe. God dispenses perfect justice. Vengeance is his job. Leave your enemies in God's hands. You're not endorsing their misbehavior when you do. You can hate what someone did without letting hatred consume you. Forgiveness is not excusing.
Nor is forgiveness pretending. David didn't gloss over or sidestep Saul's sin. He addressed it directly. He didn't avoid the issue, but he did avoid Saul.
Do the same. Give grace, but, if need be, keep your distance. You can forgive the abusive husband without living with him. Be quick to give mercy to the immoral pastor, but be slow to give him a pulpit. Society can dispense grace and prison terms at the same time. Offer the child molester a second chance, but keep him off the playgrounds.
Forgiveness is not foolishness.
Forgiveness is, at its core, choosing to see your offender with different eyes. You don't excuse him, endorse her, or embrace them. You just route thoughts about them through heaven. You see your enemy as God's child and revenge as God's job.
By the way, how can we grace-recipients do anything less? Dare we ask God for grace when we refuse to give it? This is a huge issue in Scripture. Jesus was tough on sinners who refused to forgive other sinners. In the final sum, we give grace because we've been given grace.
"Lord, please forgive me for the times that I have insisted on getting even with the people that hurt me. When I insist on doing this, I am trying to remove You from your throne. I choose to stop playing god, and yield to You, and trust you. I make the choice today to forgive those who have done me wrong. Thank You, Lord for forgiving me. I love you and will walk in forgiveness today. In Jesus name, amen!"