Revenge is a very popular movie theme. From Death Wish and Carrie to Django Unchained and The Godfather, everyone loves these stories of vengeance because it fulfills one’s own desire for revenge. We have this innate nature that wants to see people pay for the pain they have caused us, don’t we?
Now we may not pick up a sword or a gun to avenge ourselves, but we can hurt people in other ways. One of the easiest is to give them the silent treatment (spouses should be very familiar with this) or say spiteful and hurtful and unkind things to them or about them (everyone should be familiar with this!).
However, we cannot do this. We have to choose to forgive our offenders. Why? Because revenge is the way of the world. We are not people of the world; we are children of God. Consequently, we should be people of mercy, not revenge. Besides, vengeance does not solve anything; it only grows the pain. You hurt me, so I hurt you back. Now you are hurt, so you hurt me even more. And it goes on and on, an escalating cycle of revenge. Gandhi understood this. “An eye for an eye will only make the whole world blind,” he said. And the world is going blind. Can’t we see that? Or are we already too blind to see?
Forgiveness brings healing, both to the offender and to ourselves. It also brings peace. It isn’t easy to forgive people who have hurt us, but what helps is remembering that God has forgiven us for hurting him! In one of his letters, Paul advised his readers: “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32).
But it isn’t only God who has forgiven us; people have as well. If we look at our lives, we would see that we, too, have hurt people. Many of them have forgiven us, haven’t they? I am sure we have been grateful for the peace and healing it has brought us. Shouldn’t we, therefore, extend the same courtesy to those who have hurt us?
What might really persuade us to forgive our offenders, however, is that Jesus says God will withdraw his own forgiveness if we aren’t forgiving. Jesus said, “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins” (Matthew 6:14-15). If you want to understand why God would do this, please read Matthew 18:31-35 paying particular heed to verse 35. It’s not pleasant, so let us choose to forgive.
God bless you.