Breakfast with Solomon - Matthew 5:7
"Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy"
We cannot be transformed people until we realize that our response to the things people do to us is more important than what happens to us. Having worked with dozens and dozens of people who have been deeply wounded by others, I have come to realize how absolutely crucial it is that we learn to forgive. A knot of bitterness and a desire for revenge will destroy so much of your life.
One writer declares that between stimulus and response there is a little gap. In this little gap there is your choice. The more you exercise your choice, the bigger that gap becomes and the more of your life you get to direct. It is true that you do not get to choose all the things that happen to you, but you do get to choose how you react to them.
It is clear from Scripture that you can choose the path of life or the path of destruction. You are responsible and you can choose. We must utilize the grace of God to expand our use of that gap between stimulus and response. We must not be just unthinking reactors to the world around us allowing our own sin nature to reflexively respond.
We live in a flawed, broken world. Sin has entered into it and twists things. Selfishness is allowed and it twists good things into weapons. Embrace the reality that bad things will happen to you, even by good people; but you can control your response to these things. God may allow some of the evil that is aimed at you to get through. It is your ability to let God show you how He wants to use this for good in your life that will mark your destiny.
We must learn how to not demand the whole of our pound of flesh against those who wound us. We must learn how to release the vengeance to God and let him settle it for us. Mercy is the ability to allow less than justice to be exacted. Learn this quality and you will be much richer for its possession. Do not underestimate the power of mercy. It releases them and it releases you. If either or both of you are in the grip of exacting justice then it will become an increasing weight that will cripple both of you.
It is not because of punishment that God wants Christians to forgive. It is because of the release that He commands it. Our systems were never meant to carry vengeance.