Yesterday we covered how suffering can result in a value if it is the CAUSE and the suffering person handles it well. When we don’t know the cause of the suffering, we need to have faith and not get into condemnation, doubt, or anger so we don’t lose the value. However, what happens when the cause of our suffering is another person. How do we handle this well?
The Bible says the way to handle this well is to forgive. What is forgiveness? Forgiveness is the expression of your will NOT to work towards resolving an injustice done against you. It is a decision about an action. It is not a feeling. You can forgive someone and still be upset at them.
THE REWARD MODEL
When a person does something unjust towards you, they have taken a value. Justice says you are owed a value. However, God cannot give you that value until He is sure you aren’t going to try to get your own justice. If God were to give you the value and then you were to take a value from the person, God would have to take the value back and possibly take an additional value from you.
It is God’s mercy that causes Him to wait until you have expressed your will towards not getting your own justice immediately. In fact, you could end up owing even if you didn’t initiate this exchange! We’ve already shown there are numerous ways for us to get our justice immediately: strike back, badmouth, etc.
Notice, it is possible for the offending person to be owed a value if we don’t forgive and continue to take a value from them in retaliation. Even though we DIDN’T initiate the conflict, we can end up owing! This also begins to explain one of the reasons why “bad” people prosper in this life. The answer? Because people don’t forgive them!
I call this “obnoxious and oblivious”. You’ve seen these people. They are obnoxious to others and oblivious to the results of their offenses. Yet, they are seen as a “success” by the world. Part of the reason they have value is that they initiate conflict and then take no further value. Meanwhile, the offended party speaks ill about the offender to others. The others speak ill and the offender is actually gaining through justice.
Remember also, we have the choice to have our value here or in Heaven. These people better enjoy their value here because they most likely won’t get to enjoy it after they leave this existence. Again, Jesus’ answer to this is to forgive these people. It is the quickest way to limit their value and allow God to move against them.
So, the right thing to do is to forgive those who persecute us. It would follow that the quicker we forgive people, the more right we are. Are we more right than God? Of course not! That would mean that God must forgive even quicker than us. There is a difference between God’s forgiveness and justice. God forgives quickest so that justice can handle the situation.
Some famous writers have stated that it is the hardest thing in the world to believe God forgives us. Then they tell you to just believe it without giving an explanation. No wonder it is hard. Now you know the WHY behind God’s forgiveness. For Him not to forgive would make Him less right than you.
When we ask someone for forgiveness, we are asking them not to move against us. This would certainly benefit us in the short-term if the person we are approaching is someone who has power over our existence (like a king). However, when we ask for forgiveness, we are really asking for the person to let our punishment come from God.
Forgiveness benefits the forgiver in the Long Term. It DOES NOT benefit the forgiven in the Long Term because justice says we will ALWAYS have to make it equal.
Now we have learned a third way to obtain a value. Forgive people the things they’ve done to you, even if it happened years ago.