“How often we feel that we have been dealt with unjustly, that things have been said concerning us that were untrue, and that we have been set in a false light before others. When we are thus tried, we shall need to keep strict guard over our spirit and our words. We shall need to have the love of Christ, that we may not cherish an unforgiving spirit. Let us not think that unless those who have injured us confess their wrongs, we are justified in withholding from them our forgiveness.” – Sons and Daughters of God p. 144
This spring I encountered a situation that I don’t think I have experienced before. I have to be careful about how many details I give about the situation, but I was essentially called a cheat. The accusation wasn’t brought to me by the accuser, but by another. When I asked for an opportunity to explain my position in detail, as was granted the accuser, I was denied. In the end, no action was taken, so inherently it was implicitly acknowledge that my position was correct, but it left me a bit shaken.
Two things really bothered me. One, that someone thought I cheated. Two, that I wasn’t provided an opportunity to speak in my own defense. Really, it was the second thing that bothered me the most. It really stung me that someone could pull my character on the carpet and then not give me the opportunity to speak on my own behalf.
The carnal reaction wants to get revenge. From my perspective I felt wronged. I felt that somehow my reputation was being marred, and I was powerless to prevent it.
Romans 12:19 Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.
I had to let it go. I wanted to expose what had happened to the world with names and details. I wanted the others to taste some of the bitterness in my cup. After sitting on it for a couple days, I couldn’t get past the thought that doing an exposé to get revenge would not bring honor to Christ. Being a bigger person and forgiving was the Christlike path in this instance.
This situation gave me an appreciation of Christ’s forbearance during his trials the night before He was crucified. Imagine being accused falsely, being the object of pointed injustice, having your life on the line, and yet staying silent, not lashing out in anger. It was an amazing display of fortitude.
Far better would it be for us to suffer under false accusation than to inflict upon ourselves the torture of retaliation upon our enemies. The spirit of hatred and revenge originated with Satan, and can bring only evil to him who cherishes it. Lowliness of heart, that meekness which is the fruit of abiding in Christ, is the true secret of blessing. “He will beautify the meek with salvation.” Psalm 149:4. – Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing p. 17
Holding out for revenge would be torturing ourselves. Holding on to anger and trying to hurt the other person back was not a part of Christ’s way of acting (of course this is different than setting up healthy boundaries to protect yourself from a bad situation). Forgiving other people is just as much for us as it is for others. Forgiveness, letting God carry the burden of vengeance and justice, and letting go of the need or right to inflict a punishment, is so vital a healthful mind and spirituality, that we should do it whether the other person repents or not. God sees it as so important that he makes our own forgiveness contingent upon it.
Pursing the higher path that Christ walks can seem very difficult. The other side of this difficulty, however, is freedom from anger and hate that weigh us down. What are the situations in your life that need forgiveness? Whether forgiveness leads to a trusting, healthy relationship is another matter. Letting go of the attitude that originated with Satan is another. Ask God for the grace to see others as people as much in need of forgiveness as ourselves.
P.S. Here is the full paragraph of the first quote:
How often we feel that we have been dealt with unjustly, that things have been said concerning us that were untrue, and that we have been set in a false light before others. When we are thus tried, we shall need to keep strict guard over our spirit and our words. We shall need to have the love of Christ, that we may not cherish an unforgiving spirit. Let us not think that unless those who have injured us confess their wrongs, we are justified in withholding from them our forgiveness. We should not accumulate our grievances, holding them to our hearts until the one we think guilty has humbled his heart by repentance and confession…. However sorely they may have wounded us, we are not to cherish our grievances and sympathize with ourselves over our injuries, but as we hope to be pardoned for our offenses against God, so must we pardon those who have done evil to us…. When we are reviled, how strong is the temptation to revile in return, but in doing this we show ourselves as bad as the reviler. When tempted to revile, send up a silent prayer that God will give you His grace, and keep the tongue in silence…. Sons and Daughters of God p. 144