I just read this short article by Max Lucado that offered insightful perspective on forgiving others, a commandment given that will ultimately bring peace and joy.
Leave Your Enemies in God's Hands
by Max Lucado
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.