When I think of forgiveness, the example in scripture that comes to my mind is Jonah. Jonah was a prophet of God with a message to deliver to a wicked city. However, Jonah’s personal feelings regarding the city of Nineveh soon clouded his judgement, causing him to flee rather than to go as he’d been sent. And later still, after he delivered the message, he was grieved when they repented and their sentence of destruction was reversed by a compassionate and merciful God.
I’ve been wronged before.
I’ve had some things said and done to me, even recently, that deserve at the very least, an apology and at the most, restitution.
There was a time I prayed for this individual daily. I cried out to God on behalf of this person.
And then I stopped.
Why did I stop?
I stopped for two reasons: #1, I did not feel that this person was worthy of my prayers. That’s the obvious reason. But the second reason is harder to admit and even harder to see in the light of truth: I did not want this person to be a beneficiary of the mercy and grace of God.
In my heart, I was guilty of the same sin as Jonah. I wanted punishment to fall upon those that I felt were deserving. They didn’t deserve God’s mercy and grace. They didn’t deserve to get away with it. They deserved to pay and pay they should!
Then the Holy Spirit began to speak to me.
He said, “The same mercy and grace is available to your enemies as is available to you right now. Also, that same grace and mercy is being extended to you in different areas of your life”.
Oh, but the Holy Spirit wasn’t done!
As if that wasn’t enough, He said this:
“Nothing bad has to happen to someone in order for something good to happen to you”.
All this time I was waiting for the other shoe to drop. I stopped praying for the one that I felt wronged me. I stopped praying because I didn’t see the outcome that I wanted. There was nothing in it for me.
I stopped praying because like Jonah, I knew, deep down, that the God I was praying to is merciful, slow to anger and rich in mercy. Why would I want someone who wronged me to receive mercy?
Why would I want them to repent and be spared God’s judgement?
Why would I want that to happen?
But the better question was…
Why WOULDN’T I want all of those things to happen?
At no point do those who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ get away with having hearts that are unexamined. There is no way we can be recipients of God’s mercy and grace and not desire for others to also receive what they do not deserve from His loving hand.
There’s no way I can say I have His love in my heart and desire to see the destruction of my enemies.
Their destruction isn’t my business.
Vengeance belongs to God and I have learned that He reserves the right not to exercise His right of ownership at any time.
Shouldn’t my desire be that none should perish, but that all should come to repentence, even my enemies?
It’s a hard truth but it’s the truth anyhow.
You’ll never be right in God’s sight if your heart is wrong.