Who’s the real bad guy here? In my experiences, forgiveness heals, reconciliation hopes, and revenge hates. You’ll never see forgiveness and revenge hanging out together. Most of the time it’s forgiveness and reconciliation that form the inseparable bonds that none can break; however all 3 can act alone and need not the other to survive.
Forgiving someone is undoubtedly the hardest thing some of us will ever do. Think of the mother whose son was murdered; she must forgive his killer. How about the patient who endured unbearable pain and needless suffering because of her physician’s negligence? She must forgive her physician. What about the husband whose wife betrayed him? He must forgive his wife. I could go on and on…
Jesus clearly states that we are to forgive each other or we will not be forgiven. There is no choice in the matter even in the most horrible of circumstances. There should come a time when we stop punishing the people who’ve wronged us. We keep them hooked and hidden away in Payback Prison. Funny thing is that often times, the wrong-doers don’t even know they’re hooked. They have no idea they’re being punished. Living their own lives, they’re happy and free and aren’t thinking about us at all. We’re the ones suffering under the weight of the hook we created. It’s a strange thing really, that forgiveness frees us and not them. With nobody hanging from our hook and nobody needing constant monitoring, we can get on with our lives. Better yet, how about we remove the hook and throw it in the recycle bin or sell it online?
To reconcile, that is to patch up or to begin a relationship with the one who hurt us is not a requirement. Jesus recommends reconciliation but does not insist upon it. He knows that many times, reconciliation is not possible. His desire for us is that we seek to reconcile to one another, and if at all possible, to restore the relationship, however; God understands our humanness. He knows that many times, reconciliation is not possible. That’s why He gave us a few exemptions.
Concerning revenge, I believe it is born out of a spirit of anger and in extreme cases, hatred. We are never to seek it; we are never to repay evil for evil, no matter the strong urge to do so. It’s best to leave the consequences to the Lord. He knows what happened, as He saw it all. Only He knows the best punishment if any is required. Looking at it closely, it all comes down to pride. As the offended party, we believe we are owed something for all the sorrow and loss we’ve experienced. We believe paybacks are in order. I do not follow the teachings of Confucius, but He said something worth quoting here,
When you embark on a journey of revenge, be sure to dig 2 graves.
Take a look at these few verses from the Bible, and ask the Lord to help you do what you need to do.
If it is possible on your part, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.“If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink. For in so doing, you will heap burning coals on his head.”… Romans 12:18-20
Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Ephesians 4:32
And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.” Mark 11:25
For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. Matthew 6:14-15