He Finally Got What He Deserved!

As a kid, I enjoyed watching action movies featuring an obvious good guy and an obvious bad guy. My favorite part was when the bad guy was killed or captured or thrown into prison, when he finally got what he deserved. This met my deep need (albeit just in a movie), to see him brought to justice. As I’ve grown older, I’ve come to realize how dissatisfying this experience is. As someone pointed out to me, here’s why: retaliation might feel good and it helps to maintain social and civil order, but it wasn’t intended to heal broken hearts—justice can never do that.
I really wish I could disagree, but I cannot. In fact, the only thing that can begin to heal the heart is what Jesus taught in Matthew 5:38-42:
38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth. 39 But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. 40 And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. 41 If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. 42 Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.”
Jesus says I’m not allowed to get back at people. He even says I can’t choose to do nothing after I’ve been hurt. He actually tells me that when I’m hurt, I’m supposed to return kindness for pain, and blessing for cursing! Why would He tell me this? The idea comes up again in 1 Peter 3:9: “Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.”
Something happens when we show kindness to another person, especially to someone who doesn’t deserve it. It forces us to rely on God because we’re doing what only God (through His Spirit), is capable of doing. It’s like we’re showing a little bit of empathy in a way that doesn’t make sense to us. Here’s the bottom line: I need to find a way to show kindness to the person who hurt me. Initially, this is not even to benefit the other person, it’s to soften my own heart. As I’ve shared in at least one other blog in the past, not forgiving someone is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. Forgiveness is good for me; in fact, forgiveness is vital to my life and well-being. Showing kindness to the one who hurt me is a critical way for me to begin extending forgiveness.
The Mayo Clinic lists the following benefits of forgiving someone:
  • Healthier relationships
  • Improved mental health
  • Less anxiety, stress and hostility
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Fewer symptoms of depression
  • A stronger immune system
  • Improved heart health
  • Improved self-esteem
Did Jesus know what He was talking about? Forgiving others releases us from anger and leads us to the healing we need. God loves us more than we can begin to understand, and He does not want anything to stand between us and Him. Forgiving others spares us from the consequences of living with an unforgiving heart. Challenge yourself (as I’m challenging myself) to do something kind for someone who’s hurt you. Begin the process of forgiving him or her, and just watch what God does.
Troy Burns