Biblical forgiveness doesn’t always make sense to us. According to our human reasoning, if we are wronged, we shouldn’t have to let go of our anger until the other party makes it right. But when we look at Jesus we see another example. When wronged, He did not respond in kind but entrusted it to God. Let’s take a look at this beautiful passage in 1 Peter together on today’s episode of “5 Minutes with Pastor Lutzer.”
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Transcript: Welcome to “5 Minutes with Pastor Lutzer.” I’m so glad that you joined us today again for a very important series, titled, “When You’ve Been Wronged: Moving from Bitterness to Restoration.”—to freedom. If you were with us last time, you know that I ended by asking you a question: is your desire for vengeance an idol in your life? Are you saying, “I can’t have a relationship with God until this matter is resolved”? That’s idolatry. I want to give you two illustrations.
When I was in high school, there was one of the students there who had surgery and he had some scars that were visible. In retrospect, we were mean to him. Oh, we joked and we laughed about it. We thought that he was enjoying the fun, but he wasn’t. Perhaps 15 years ago, I got a letter from a classmate who said, so and so (we’ll call him Bill),—“Bill is angry today and has no interest in walking with God because of the tremendous hurt that these Christian high school students did in making fun of him.” You know when I received that I was just so stricken in my conscience because I knew that I was part of that group. So I wrote him a letter. I begged for his forgiveness. I didn’t talk about his relationship with God, I said if you could find it in your heart to forgive me that would bring me joy. Now, I never heard back from him; I’m not even sure that he got the letter, but I sure hope he did.
Let me give you another illustration. This is Bible College. One of the students there was—well, do you understand the terminology If I say he was “over-saved”? By that, I mean he was totally opposed to any joking, any laughing, any levity, and he saw us enjoying ourselves, telling jokes and all the rest. He didn’t come back to Bible College but left and rebelled against God, because what he said is, “if these Christian students act that way who needs Christianity?” Now, that was an idol in his life, what he was saying is, “until this issue is resolved”—or my friend in high school, saying, “until somehow I receive justice for the wrong that has been done against me. I can put God off and don’t have to deal with Him because this idol in my life needs to be taken care of first.” The idolatry of vengeance and the need for it, it has kept many many people from God.
One day, a woman came to me and said, “my husband has left me. He’s gone to Florida; he’s married someone down there; he’s left me with the children. I basically have to work because he’s not sending me payments.” Of course, in a case like this, we do all that we possibly can to make sure that justice is brought to the situation, but you’re old enough to know that in many instances, justice is impossible. She was saying in effect, “I can’t have a relationship with God.” You’re saying I have to give my hatred to God? But why should I have to do that when I’m the one that was wronged? The Lord gave me a verse of scripture that I want to leave with you today and I want you to ponder this: the example of Jesus. The text is actually found in 1 Peter 2. Let’s take this slowly. “…who, when He was reviled, reviled not again. When He suffered, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself unto Him who judges righteously.” When Jesus died on the cross—and even to this day—the wrongs that have been done against Him have never been resolved. They’ve never been answered by justice, but someday they will.
My friend, I want to end today asking you to commit your desire to justice to a higher court. We do whatever we can, but vengeance belongs to God. Don’t let the hurts of the past keep you from your walk with God. All the unresolved issues, you commit them to Him and you trust Him to do right by you in His good time and in His way. Justice belongs to God. Take away that stumbling block. Now, I want you to make sure that you join us next time because we’re going to talk about the challenge of raising Cain. I can assure you, you don’t want to miss it. But as for today, you just go with God.