Forgiveness is one of the most powerful forces in the world.
So, why is it so hard to do?
Because, while we want mercy for ourselves, we want others to be held accountable.
Jesus told a story about a servant who owed the king a substantial debt of 10,000 talents. For reference, one talent was roughly equivalent to a year’s wages. A debt of 10,000 talents, then, meant the servant was hopelessly trapped in his miserable circumstances.
Enter the king, who – remarkably – forgives the servant his entire debt. Just like that. Imagine, a life sentence of suffering and misery erased forever.
But then the story takes a twist. A second servant enters, who is in debt to the first servant for what amounts to pocket change. Considering the first servant had been forgiven so much himself, you’d expect him to forgive the second one. Instead, he sought justice and threw the second servant in jail until his meager debt was paid.
And there it is. The crux of our problem. We want to be forgiven for hurting others, but we want those who hurt us to face justice. Seeking justice apart from forgiveness isn’t justice at all. It’s vengeance. And in the end, vengeance doesn’t free us from our suffering. It intensifies it.
A better approach is to forgive, to let go of our anger, our resentment, and our desire for vengeance, so we can move forward through life in peace.