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"I Want Them To Pay"

In this life, we are all wronged. We all have the same sense in us to pick up when someone belittles us or treats us in a way that is disrespectful. Something inside of us intuitively knows that we are supposed to be treated better. What's interesting is that God teaches us this in the Bible as He commands us to love our neighbor as we love ourselves (Mark 12:31). We are expected to love ourselves, love others, love God is the first commandment Jesus mentioned before this one, but when we are sinned against, we are commanded to forgive. As followers of Jesus, if we aren't daily meditating God's teachings of love and forgiveness, we can fall into a desire to rectify those moments of wrongdoing with a sense of vengeance, pride, and harshness. In Matthew 18:21-35, Jesus tells the parable of the unforgiving debtor in response to Peter's question: "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?" In the parable, we find a man who was about to lose everything and everyone dear to him, be forgiven of his debt, but yet not learn, be inspired by such mercy, or live it out in his own life. Instead, he makes his own debtor pay what he is owed.

In our earthly mentality, it makes sense to see things black and white, and to desire to take matters into our own hands. We make justifications for our own merciless actions, but at the heart of such actions is a heart full of unforgiveness. When I read this parable, I hear Jesus warning me not to fall into this slippery slope that does not end well for those who do not forgive our brothers the way our heavenly Father has forgiven us and requires of us. "I want them to pay for what they have done to me" is a mindset resembling that of the unforgiving debtor.

Perhaps we see payback behavior frequently and casually playing out in the world, but as disciples of Jesus we are required to turn our back to our former fleshly desires and thoughts, making room for a humble heart that is more concerned about God's Kingdom ruling it and less concerned about punishing those who hurt it. I'm so thankful that we can bring our true feelings to God as the psalmists exemplify, and find Him bringing His words to us in many ways in response to our honest plea for help. If you find yourself hurt, thinking up ways for your debtors to repay you for what they have done, share that with God, and submit yourself to His ways. He will use that bad experience to help you grow and be wiser and stronger. Watch God turn your pain for your good, just as He did it in the life of Joseph, who beautifully worded his forgiveness to the people who hurt him this way: "You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done..." (Genesis 50:20 NIV).

"As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved." (Ephesians 2:1-5)


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