One primary reason why we struggle to forgive another is that we feel it is our only way to “pay them back” for the harm they did to us. It is our chance to punish them. However, the Word clearly states that only GOD has the right to judge another. When someone offends us, we must turn this offense over to the Lord and trust that our just God will righteously deal with this offender. All of us one day will be judged for our good and bad deeds. “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad” (2 Corinthians 5:10). God is just and He will judge.
For those who are covered by the blood of Christ, they will have eternal life but will suffer deep sadness for the disobedience in their lives (see 1 Corinthians 3:12-15). But for those who don’t know Christ, they will suffer eternal separation from God for their sins. This is certainly punishment enough. Again, the Lord wants us to put this in His hands.
Isaiah 61:1-3 is a beautiful passage of God’s healing and restoration. In verse 1, we see the Lord binding up the brokenhearted and setting the captives free. In verse 3, He offers us a crown of beauty, the oil of gladness, and a garment of praise. But oddly, right in between these two verses is a passage that speaks of the day of vengeance of the Lord. Why is this in the middle of a passage on healing? Because, when we release those who have offended us to the Lord, knowing that in the day of vengeance they will be judged, we are actually set free from bondage. When we hang onto our unforgiveness, we are put in bondage. When we do not forgive another, this turns into bitterness which becomes like a poison to our soul. Our spirit becomes oppressed and our joy and peace and our witness to others is tarnished.
Sisters, “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you” (Colossians 3:13).