Sometimes when dealing with people, we come into contact with those that hurt us. Most people aren’t trying to hurt others, but it happens. Some of these people are simply ignorant of what hurts, some are just in a bad place in their lives, some are only thinking of themselves and don’t give any thought to anyone else. The fact is, hurt people hurt people. This is good information to be armed with, but often it is used as a basis for forgiveness and that’s not a good thing.
You see, forgiveness is not something that can be earned, or even given unless you do it in the right way. Many times we excuse the behaviors of others based on circumstances, and we call that forgiveness, but it is not. So to explain, let’s pretend that Harry is having a rough day. I mean, a the-car-broke-down-the-cat-got-stuck-in-the-toilet-and-I-lost-my-job kind of day. Harry might get grumpy. He might even say things he shouldn’t. He might even kick your garbage can so hard that it needs replacing and there’s a huge mess in your yard that you now have to clean up. So, let’s pretend that Harry rarely ever gets upset, certainly not this upset. You might have compassion for Harry. After a twinge of annoyance (after all there’s trash in your yard), you might decide that Harry is having a way worse day than you (it wasn’t that hard to clean up, you reason) and so you LET HARRY OFF THE HOOK. How very generous of you. (If you don’t see the problem yet, hang in there. It’s coming.)
Now, you might be thinking, “I don’t get it? Should I have yelled at the guy?” Of course not. What you should have done is to forgive him. What’s the difference? I thought you’d never ask. Here is the bottom line. Jesus paid the price for all sin. ALL sin. Have you got that? Jesus paid the price for the sins done by you AND for the sins done TO you. Ummm…. yep. Your only position of authority to forgive is found in the cross. It is not up to you to determine if Harry had a good reason for his sin. You have no claim to a seat of judgement because you, too, have sinned. You can neither punish nor promise heaven. It is not in your power because you also have need of a Savior. Paul said “To whom ye forgive any thing, I forgive also: for if I forgave any thing, to whom I forgave it, for your sakes forgave I it in the person of Christ; Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.” 2 Corinthians 2:10-11
What it all boils down to is this:
“For all have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God” Romans 3:23.
Every single one of us has sinned, and every single one had a reason. God didn’t send Jesus to die on the cross for the sins we commit without a good enough reason. Jesus died forALL sin. When someone sins against you, lay that sin at the foot of the cross right next to yours. Let Christ in you forgive them. When you make excuses for someone (justifying their behavior), you don’t forgive. You never close the book on their sin done to you because their “get out of jail free card” is only good as long as you accept their excuse. Your “forgiveness” in that case is not permanent, it is conditional. And that is not love. It is actually extreme arrogance and leaves an unpaid debt.
Let me explain further. When Cain killed Abel, the Bible says that Abel’s blood cried out to the Lord. (Genesis 4) That was a cry for vengeance. Hebrews 12:23-24 says, “To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and toGod the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.” The blood of Jesus answered the blood of Abel. His blood cried mercy when it had no reason to except that He loved us. No wrong can be done without payment needing to be made for atonement. “For the wages of sin is death” Romans 6:23. Therefore, we must look to the only One who was ever able to pay that debt. The Author and Finisher of our faith– Jesus.
Now, when we are wronged, we take that wrong to the cross, lest we commit the sin of judgement. “Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.” Matthew 7:1-3
“For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” Matthew 6:14, 15