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Forgiveness isn’t fair

“But he doesn’t deserve to be forgiven,” she cried, as tears rolled down her face.

She was right. He didn’t. He had cheated on her. He had ruined their marriage. He had irreparably damaged their family.

The pastor told her she didn’t have to take him back. The Bible is clear on that. But God did want her to forgive him.

“He doesn’t deserve to be forgiven,” she repeated.

He didn’t. Just like that man who hurt you when you were a child doesn’t deserve your forgiveness. Nor does that bully who made your life miserable. Nor does your unfair boss, your nagging wife, or your backstabbing friend.

Jesus suffered what wasn’t fair. He suffered our punishment in our place so that
we could be forgiven.

None of them deserve to be forgiven. They hurt you. They did you wrong. They may not even be sorry. It wouldn’t be fair to just forgive them.

The thing we need to ask ourselves is, “Do we really want fair?” Fair means getting what we deserve, and what we deserve for a lifetime of bad choices, moral failings, and shameful deeds is an eternity in the prison of hell.

We don’t want fair. We want mercy.

And that’s exactly what God gives us. In his great mercy, Jesus suffered what wasn’t fair. He suffered our punishment in our place so that we could be forgiven. Forgiveness isn’t fair.

Fair is us hanging on that cross. Fair is us suffering God’s anger for our sins. We deserve that and more.

But God has treated us in the most wonderfully unfair way. He has shown us mercy. We don’t deserve forgiveness. We don’t deserve heaven. We don’t deserve any of the multitude of blessings we receive every day. Even sunshine and rain are gifts of God we don’t deserve.

And when we really get that—when we really appreciate God’s great mercy that doesn’t treat us as we deserve—that’s the first step toward forgiving others.

Do you struggle to forgive? Take a long look in the mirror. Look at all the ugly, shameful things you have thought, said, and done. Shine a light into the dark recesses of your heart where your ugly secrets hide.

Then see the cross. See Jesus’ pain. See the punishment he suffered for you. He did it all for you, and, because he did, God forgives you completely and forever. He will never hold it over your head. He will never come back and say, “Remember what you did?”

If God can forgive you, you can forgive your ex-husband. You can forgive that man who hurt you when you were a child. You can forgive your backstabbing friend.

It’s not easy, but knowing God’s mercy empowers us to be merciful. With God’s help, you can forgive. Then you can let go of the anger. You can let go of the resentment. You can be kind and compassionate. Forgiving others helps you step forward and leave the wrong behind instead of being consumed by it.

Is it fair? Not at all. They did you wrong. They don’t deserve it.

But forgiveness is never fair, and it’s definitely not deserved.

Author: Andrew Schroer
Volume 108, Number 03
Issue: March 2021

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