My grade 6 teacher in high school became my role model. He made class fun, always encouraging us and guiding us. He always smiled and he tried to be like a kid, just like us. I admired him greatly.
However, even in a great class setting, trouble can happen. Every two weeks we went swimming in our local swimming pool. That was an extra bonus! One day while I was swimming, someone pushed me down into the deep waters. I swallowed quite a bit of water and was not happy at all. When I came back to the surface, I pushed the culprit down, just to teach him a lesson. The teacher saw what I had done and for punishment, I had to go to detention hall the following Wednesday. As the teacher hadn’t seen the other student pushing me under, he got off scot free.
I learned that day that retaliation (Unforgiveness) is not worth my time. Interestingly enough, I was not bitter towards the culprit who pushed me under. Instead I was horrified of my own actions. I walked home depressed and filled with fear. I would truly disappoint my mom and dad, and that made me feel sick. My parents didn’t have to punish me. They could see how depressed I was. That night I couldn’t sleep at all. I felt too much remorse, and the next day I woke up sick. The doctor said I had the flu, and it took me a week to heal.
The following Wednesday afternoon, I entered detention hall terrified. I didn’t want to be associated with those who were continually in trouble. I felt so ashamed. I couldn’t wait until the two hours were up. Never again did I have to visit that horrible place.
Unforgiveness and retaliation are not worth it. It is way better to forgive than to have to go to detention hall. After all, when we retaliate or refuse to forgive, we end up worse off than those who hurt us. We become bitter, and we are certainly not behaving as sons and daughters of the Most High. Is it truly worth it?
“The kingdom of God is like a king who decided to square accounts with his servants. As he got under way, one servant was brought before him who had run up a debt of a hundred thousand dollars. He couldn’t pay up, so the king ordered the man, along with his wife, children, and goods, to be auctioned off at the slave market. The poor wretch threw himself at the king’s feet and begged, ‘Give me a chance and I’ll pay it all back.’ Touched by his plea, the king let him off, erasing the debt. The servant was no sooner out of the room when he came upon one of his fellow servants who owed him ten dollars. He seized him by the throat and demanded, ‘Pay up. Now!’ The poor wretch threw himself down and begged, ‘Give me a chance and I’ll pay it all back.’ But he wouldn’t do it. He had him arrested and put in jail until the debt was paid. When the other servants saw this going on, they were outraged and brought a detailed report to the king. The king summoned the man and said, ‘You evil servant! I forgave your entire debt when you begged me for mercy. Shouldn’t you be compelled to be merciful to your fellow servant who asked for mercy?’ The king was furious and put the screws to the man until he paid back his entire debt. And that’s exactly what my Father in heaven is going to do to each one of you who doesn’t forgive unconditionally anyone who asks for mercy.” (Matthew 18:23-35 MSG)
We are eager to be forgiven; but it is harder to forgive. Why? Because we focus too much on ourselves instead of on others: “That’s exactly what my Father in heaven is going to do to each one of you who doesn’t forgive unconditionally anyone who asks for mercy.” (Matthew 18:35 MSG)
“Why did you hurt me?” What will you do about it?
“Dear friends, we must love each other because love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born from God and knows God.” (1 John 4:7 GW)
How sweet to hear these words: “I forgive you!” No detention will ever occur in such situations. You will be truly free!
(To access the entire “Dragon Tramps or Kingdom Heirs” devotional series, please click here.)