When you’re the one who’s sinned against …

“Make a decision,” I said to the woman who was wiping a tear from her eye.

Sitting next to her husband on the couch in my office, they had been in counseling with me for a few weeks.

“But he cheated on me!” she retorted angrily.

The current problem this couple was facing wasn’t the infidelity the husband committed a few months prior, but the fact that the wife had said multiple times that she forgave her husband, but was using his unquestioned guilt to control and hurt him back.

Before possibly forgiving him, she wanted to inflict her own hurt on him for the hurt he had caused her. She really had not forgiven him, she was using her position as the victim to justify vengeance.

It doesn’t work that way in God’s economy. You either forgive or you don’t. Forgiveness does not come with a window of opportunity for retaliation before “real forgiveness” sets in.

Being sinned against does not provide us with justification to strike back, to “settle the score,” or to reason “an eye for an eye” behavior. It provides us with an opportunity to walk in the footsteps of Jesus Christ and truly forgive, or to broaden the problem with sin of our own.

“Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you,” Ephesians 4:31-32.

Are you using your victim status as an excuse to strike back at someone? Have you claimed to forgive someone when you really harbor ill feelings against them? Do you need to make a decision to truly forgive?