Forgiving Those Who Don’t Ask
In every one of our lives, there are going to be people who hurt us or use us and never see their error. Some offenders will never approach us with an apology or ask for forgiveness. There is a part of us, as humans, that deeply desires justice for ourselves in those instances. We all understand that humans sow what they reap, and we may become discouraged when it looks like those people who have sinned against us don’t reap their “just desserts.” We get really indignant when it seems like God is blessing them or using them in ways in which we want to be blessed or used!
This has happened to me on occasion, and it revealed in my heart an immature desire for justice and God’s judgment instead of the mercy and grace I had received with my salvation. I had a hard time moving past scenarios in my life where I was rejected or misjudged unrighteously and how those offenders were still prosperous and blessed by God. The Lord challenged me to grow in this area recently and I would like to share with you what He showed me. I hope it will also help you to grow in your ability to forgive and walk in God’s love, mercy, and grace!
Jesus Purchased Peace
The Holy Spirit led me to Isaiah 53:5 in the Amplified Bible, which says,
But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our guilt and iniquities; the chastisement [needful to obtain] peace and well-being for us was upon Him, and with the stripes [that wounded] Him we are healed and made whole.
He pointed out the phrase, “the chastisement needful to obtain peace and well-being for us was upon Him,” and I meditated on what that meant for awhile. I had always interpreted that to mean that the chastisement that my sins needed—the just correction and discipline my iniquity deserved—was placed on Jesus and He bore it for me. This is absolutely true and I thank God for His gracious gift every day! But there is more to it than that. There is a part of our hearts that crave a just payment to be made for sins committed. For those who have hurt us to see and ask for forgiveness. Most of us would be upset to find out that a convicted criminal was released from his or her prison sentence because of a clerical error or something similar. The greater the crime committed, the greater our indignation and sense that an injustice had occurred. People would be motivated to go back through the court records or to retry the released prisoner so that justice truly would be served. It would seem only right to us.
We encounter some of these same emotions when people sin against us and don’t repent, ask for forgiveness, or even apologize for their mistakes or intentionally hurtful actions. When we see those same people get seemingly blessed by God, it can be disheartening. If we don’t deal with these discouragements, they can lead to anger and bitterness against God. We start to believe that God doesn’t care about justice for us and that others are just getting away with hurting us with no repercussions.
Deeper Understanding of Grace
As I continued to meditate on Isaiah 53:5, God showed me that just as Jesus had endured the chastisement my own sins earned, Jesus had endured the chastisement those people had earned as well. As I began pondering that He was literally paying for their sins on the cross, as well as mine, the anger and bitterness I was harboring started to melt away. That sin’s debt to me—and there was one—was paid in full, and this payment was above and beyond the debt in every way. Frozen-hearted frustration over the blessings of God on the offenders’ lives melted into the warmth of the love of God that seeks to bless, forgive, and help. As I imagined Jesus taking the discipline and chastisement needed for my heart to receive peace, I was humbled at the pride I had in holding those offenses against others. Hadn’t Jesus done enough to earn me His peace? Hadn’t He paid enough for the minor infractions I felt I had endured? Yes, He had. And as I released the bitterness and pain of holding on to the poison of unforgiveness, I was embraced again by God’s love and overwhelmed with His goodness to us all once again.
If you are holding on to the offenses of others because they haven’t repented, I implore you to release those things to God and let the chastisement Jesus endured stand for them. Forgive their sin debt to you and commit them to God. He took their place, so you could have His peace.