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He Hurt Me and I'll Make Him Pay

October 15, 2014

I was hoping to have something light and fluffy to encourage you and to make you laugh after a long series of serious thoughts, but my heart has been impressed with another hard subject. 

It follows on the subject of suffering: what should you do when you are hurt by another?

The immediate response to hurt is to be defensive, make excuses, and execute judgment on the other. Yet we can all hear the words of Christ whispered in our ears: “Turn the other cheek,” and “forgive”. But how?

Let’s start by going over what forgiveness is not.

Forgiving is not the same as forgetting.

Just because we forgive someone, does not mean the pain they caused will instantly disappear.

I’ve never seen anyone forget wrongs done to them as quickly my husband does. I hang onto a wrong and remember that the person doesn't deserve kindness. My husband has to be reminded that someone hurt him. How does he do that? He doesn’t think about it.

Forgiving is not the same as trusting.

When someone is given a position with responsibility and fails in that position, we forgive his failure, but that does not mean we restore him to the same position. A position is earned. “Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.” I Corinthians 4:2.

For example, a husband who has been found unfaithful can be forgiven but must earn the wife’s trust before she can believe his words and actions again. j

Your forgiveness is not an excuse for others to do wrong.

What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer.” Romans 6:1-2

Should you forgive a person who does not repent and turn from his wrong?

“Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” Colossians 3:13

If repentance isn’t found, can forgiveness be given?

The Lord forgave while we were still sinning. We weren’t seeking His forgiveness. But that is not an excuse to continue to sin.

Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?

Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” (Matthew 18:21-22)

 Jesus told Peter that there are people in this life who don’t care to change. They don’t want to repent. These people aren’t just the world, Jesus calls them your ‘brother’. That’s why it hurts. That’s why it’s hard. It's personal. 

Jesus doesn’t say that they are seeking repentance. He says when your brother sins against you. You forgive when he doesn't ask, because you must, he has after all sinned against you—again and again and again.

But when they do not repent, or seek to change, restoration does not happen. Trust, fellowship, and communion aren't restored, because unrepented sin separates. 

Some say you shouldn't offer forgiveness until the persons asks. I don’t fully understand the time frame of when you should forgive, but I do know God says ‘forgive.' I don't ask when.

When someone in my family repeatedly hurt me (don't we all have someone like this?), I approached him. He didn't acknowledge his wrong. I struggled to forgive. By God’s help, I let go of the hurt and forgave him. I didn't expect him to change. I accepted him for who he was, sinner and all.

Years later, when he asked forgiveness for ‘anything he may have done,’ I had already forgiven him. I had moved forward, something I couldn't do until I forgave him. His actions hadn't held me in bondage. Now, with his admitting wrong, fellowship could be restored. But because it had been years of brokenness, fellowship would take time. I still won’t automatically trust. That must be earned.

So how do we forgive?

Forgiveness comes when we give our hurts to God and acknowledge God as the judge.

Sometimes we are hurt by people who did not intend to hurt us. We need to confront them and ask them of their intentions. Many grudges and pains are caused by miscommunication; our limited view of what was said or done. When things are discussed, we find the meaning clear and hurt not intended, a misunderstanding explained. Talk to those who have hurt you. 

Now for those hurts that are intentional and volitional… forgiveness is made possible when you realize in this world you will be persecuted for doing what is right. You are a light to a dark world. Wrong doesn't like exposure. If they can extinguish your light, they look better.

Bless those who persecute you, bless and do not curse….Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: It is mine to avenge; I will repay, says the Lord. On the contrary: If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:14, 17-21

How do you do that?

My heart wants to hold the hurt. My mind wants to recite the injustice. My reaction is to give what they deserve.

Forgiveness lies in what we've talked about with suffering.  Our thoughts are not God’s thoughts. We must commit to know His thoughts.

“Let your gentleness be evident to all. (I am not known for my gentleness...) The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. (Including your hurts) And the peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (memories of hurts will grow dim) Finally brothers, whatever is true (no excuses for our own behavior)… noble,… right,… pure, … lovely, … admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things…—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:5-9

I value peace. I don’t like it when my mind is in turmoil and I am fighting to do right. When I choose to dwell on God’s thoughts (His list is pretty long, but it does not include what wrongs are done to me nor what I should do to another), I find “the peace of God, which transcends all understanding.” That peace “guards your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7)

I’d rather have peace than carry a grudge, wouldn’t you?

Then seek to know Him.

My series on suffering are available in booklet form here.

 



How has forgiving another helped you? Share to help other readers who may be struggling to take the next step.

Author of Biblical fiction, married to my best friend, and challenged by eight sons’ growing pains as I write about what matters.

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