If we accept that resentment is poisonous to the soul and that God demands we dispose of it, the next question is obvious: How? How can we rid ourselves of this toxic attitude? Here’s where God’s Word comes to our rescue. First, we must do something within ourselves that is painful. We must surrender our right to pursue our own justice. This is the first of two steps in forgiving someone. We will examine the second step [Wednesday].
Leave Justice to God
There is a good reason we love justice. Fairness is a quality of God that we carry within us that, in part, bears His image. God is just. God is fair-minded. God believes in rewarding good behavior and allowing evildoers to suffer the punishment for their deeds. Nowhere in Scripture is the concept of justice declared bad. Neither will you find any condemnation for those who desire justice. Even so, God calls us to entrust Him with all matters requiring justice and to surrender our right to obtain it ourselves. God declared this early in the history of Israel:
“Vengeance is Mine, and retribution,
In due time their foot will slip;
For the day of their calamity is near,
And the impending things are hastening upon them.”
For the LORD will vindicate His people,
And will have compassion on His servants.
The proverb reassures us, “Do not fret because of evildoers or be envious of the wicked; for there will be no future for the evil man; the lamp of the wicked will be put out” (Proverbs 24:19-20). God gives us His solemn assurance that He will handle justice on our behalf and fulfill His role as Judge with absolute integrity. This promise frees us to leave past hurts in the past and to focus on making good decisions for the sake of creating a good future. When we do so, Paul the apostle stated, we “leave room for the wrath of God” (Romans 12:19) to accomplish its work. Read his counsel slowly and carefully:
Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. 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 12:17-19)
From Living the Proverbs by Charles R. Swindoll, copyright © 2012. Reprinted by permission of Worthy Inspired., an imprint of Hachette Book Group, Inc.
Used with permission. All rights reserved.
In Embraced by the Spirit, we step away from the heat of theological battle that analyzes and criticizes and move quietly and closely to the One who has been sent alongside to help.