On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate your ability to forgive someone who’s wronged you? The lower end of the scale represents, “Forgive? Are you kidding me? He/she doesn’t deserve forgiveness!” The upper end represents, “Forgive? Sure, no problem. Anytime.”
I probably fall somewhere in the middle, although honesty (and my humanity) forces me to admit that the scale sometimes slides according to the infraction. The more hurtful the offense, the more effort it takes to reach a higher score. Sound familiar?
Forgiving someone who hurts us is vital to our spiritual, emotional, mental, and even our physical well-being, but let’s face it: It’s really difficult sometimes. Is there a secret that enables us to do it without experiencing a wrestling match of the soul first? Yes!
More than 30 years ago I experienced huge heartache when my fiancé broke our engagement after becoming attracted to someone else. One of my college professors saw what happened and gave me a piece of advice that changed my life. I believe it’s the secret to extending forgiveness when wronged. He said, “God will hold him accountable for what he’s done. But He will hold you accountable for how you respond.”
Wise words, eh? They jive with Jeremiah 17:10 – “But I, the LORD, search all hearts and examine secret motives. I give all people their due rewards, according to what their actions deserve.”
God is not blind. He sees when someone wrongs His children—even in secret—and He will call the offender to accountability. Sometimes that happens immediately, sometimes not. The timing is up to Him. We need to trust that He’ll keep His word in that regard. Releasing the offender into His hands allows us to experience freedom from bitterness and ultimately fall higher on the scale.
At the same time, we need to remember that God will call us into accountability for our response to being wronged. Will we forgive, harbor a grudge or a victim mentality, or seek revenge? The choice is ours. Speaking from personal experience, knowing that God will someday address my attitude and response gives me major incentive to choose well.
Where do you fall on the scale? How will these thoughts about accountability encourage you to forgive even when it’s difficult?
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