Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
-Ephesians 4:32, NIV
Today, I have been working on the concept of forgiveness in my personal and professional life.
The discussion I had on this topic included talking about how repentance is part of the equation of healthy, godly forgiveness (see Luke 17:3).
However, what happens when someone does not or is not willing to repent?
The conclusion I came to in my conversations was how we are not to hold onto the offense. The anger and pain will destroy us.
What I see godly forgiveness teaching us is to do our best to deal with the relationship–i.e. rebuke the offender, if safe and appropriate (see Luke 17:3)–and then entrust the person to God’s judgment.
In a sense, the offense is remains unforgiven without repentance as God will hold the offender accountable ultimately.
Yet in another sense, the offense is forgiven for the victim in the sense that we do not allow the painful emotions to control us anymore.
It is God’s mess to handle.
That said, my experience is that we do not get to this place overnight. It will take time to let go of the punisher role.
This is especially so when the person does not repent and the offense(s) are deep.
Part of this journey is grappling with our place as creature as opposed to Creator. It is acknowledging that punishing the offender is not our role but God’s.
Trust me, I know this is a tough pill to swallow.
But it is “good medicine” for the soul.
What helps me let go is understanding that God will settle the accounts one day. I can let go knowing that the injustice will be handled as God is righteous. He is a “good bet.”
The perpetrator might reject repentance in this life only to face consequences in the next just as a sinner can reject God’s forgiveness in this life only to experience His eternal judgment in the next.