How does it feel when someone does you wrong? When you’re lied to, cheated, stolen from, or wronged in some way. Maybe someone said something about you that isn’t true. If you’re like me, my first instinct is to want justice. I’d want them to take it back, apologize, and make it right. After all, that’s what I would do. But what if that doesn’t happen?
It is human nature to want these things. And yes, it’s right that one should receive them, but justice isn’t in our power to hand out.
Matthew 5:38-39 NLT says, “You have heard the law that says the punishment must match the injury: ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say, do not resist an evil person! If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other cheek also.” So does this mean subject yourself to someone who continually does you wrong? I don’t think so. But it does mean vengeance is the Lord’s and not yours to hand out. An apology may never come, and you may even be wronged again. So what do we do when we find ourselves in a situation that someone continually “slaps our right cheek?”
Well, offering the left, or giving a second chance is one thing we can do. People mess us. We are all human and we all fall short and do things we shouldn’t do. This is why we should always give someone a second chance. What about a third, though? Of course, continual abuse should never be tolerated. We have two cheeks, so once we’ve been slapped a few times it might be time to move on.
An eye for an eye?
Why not slap back? I’m not talking about physical violence here. If someone physically attacks me or my family, there’s definitely going to be a fight! I am talking about those offenses I first mentioned – being lied to, being gossiped about, being cheated or stolen from. We don’t administer justice in the same way we receive it. So what now? The Bible doesn’t say you still need to subject yourself to their abuse, but it does say to pray for them.
Prayer and forgiveness
You might ask, “Why would I pray for someone who did me wrong?” Well, there’s a good reason for praying for your enemy, because it leads to our next commandment: forgiveness.
Are we supposed to forgive someone even if they don’t apologize? Are we supposed to forgive someone even if they continue to do is wrong? In Matthew 6:14-15 NLT it says, “If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.” So this is why we should forgive. It doesn’t make it easy, but that’s where the prayer comes in.
Prayer allows our mind and body to line up with our spirit. If we pray for our enemy, it won’t feel good at first, but it will begin to make the offenses become a lighter and lighter weight for us to carry. And when we pray for those who harm us, it can help our mind to see that person as God see them. After all, we cannot judge others unless we judge ourselves. I, for one, know I’ve done my share of sinning against even my best friends.
With forgiveness comes peace. Being Unforgiving breeds a war in our spirit. It makes our blood-pressure rise and our anger overflow, and it can even make us physically sick! It can also lead us where we see our political parties today – so divided and at war with one another that most of us wonder if there will ever be compromise and peace again. And it always tends to aim our ship to a destination we do not want to travel to.
We should remember that vengeance is the Lord’s, not ours. So list a few of those people in your life that you still have bitterness towards and are unforgiving of. Start praying for them today. Pray for them to fulfill the plans God has for them. Pray for them to find peace themselves – because after all, hurt people hurt people. Pray for them to be blessed. And then pray for your heart to soften and forgive them of your offenses. And don’t give up – don’t stop when it doesn’t seem to be working. The more you do it, the easier it gets, and the more peace you will find!