Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Who's Vengeance is it Anyway?

Why is it that some people are easier to forgive than others?

Our relationship with an individual and the amount of damage from their offense(s) has bearing on the ease or difficulty. This is different for each of us.

For example, in my life I could forgive my parents easily for any wrong toward me as a child. First, because I longed to please them and did not want to be a disappointment to them. Secondly, because I loved them deeply and desired a healthy relationship with them as an adult. (not to mention the awareness of my own imperfections as a parent!) On the contrary, a woman I know struggles deeply to forgive her parents because of the severe abuse and neglect she suffered at their hands.

The abusing pastor from my teen years was the most difficult for me. In part because of the process I went through emotionally in the years following his abuse—the explanation of which belongs in another subject in another post. But, mostly, the reason was due to the amount and depth of damage done to my own life and the life of my family.

Often, an insatiable appetite for vengeance grows where we are unwilling (and even unable) to forgive.

Weeks after taking the first step of choosing to forgive my greatest offender (before I felt like it), I penned these words in my journal after some serious time in prayer with God:

“[God] helped bring the depths of my heart to the surface. Part of me wanted him to see what he’s done, be held accountable, and see all the damage he’s caused in my life. I also got to thinking, I have suffered so much—me, my marriage/husband, my kids—I’d like to see him suffer. [Then] God’s still voice said to me, “He already is suffering. He has been suffering because of his sin—whether he realizes it or not, he already is suffering.”

In case you missed it, dear friend, hear it again. Those who hurt you, those you long to hurt in return, already are suffering because of their sin. (unless they have come to repentance and turned completely from their sinful ways, Act 3:19; though even then they may still suffer consequences)

“But your sins will eat away at you from within and you’ll groan among yourselves.”
(Ezekiel 24:23b, The Message)

“Many times he delivered them, but they were bent on rebellion and they wasted away in their sin.”
(Psalm 106:43, NIV)

“Then the evil desire, when it has conceived, gives birth to sin, and sin, when it is fully matured, brings forth death.”
(James 1:15, Amplified)

Those who remain unrepentant and deny their sin against you are already suffering.

“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.”
(Romans 12:19, NASB)

Enough said. That arena belongs to God. And we need not get in his way or take matters into our own hands—as hard as that may be sometimes (and lest we sin ourselves in doing so!).

For those whom we find it more difficult to forgive, we must call upon the help of the Lord, who promises that vengeance is his and that he will repay their sins.

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