The Healing Choice to Forgive
By Rick Warren
— October 12, 2009
“Never pay back evil with more evil . . . Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good” (Romans 12:17, 21 NLT).
What is your normal reaction when people hurt you intentionally? Retaliate! Get even! We're often at our creative best when we’re thinking up methods to get even.
But the Bible teaches we need to make a choice to forgive. Instead of reacting, we should take the initiative to forgive.
In his book, Why Am I Afraid To Tell You Who I Am?, John Powell says he was walking down the street with a friend and they stopped to get a paper. The man selling the paper was discourteous and very rude. As they walked away, John’s friend said to the man, “You have a nice day, now!”
John asked his friend, “Is that man always that rude to you?”
“Are you always that nice to him?”
John’s friend said, “Yes, I’m not going to let one man ruin my day.”
The brilliant African-American scientist, Booker T. Washington, faced prejudice all his life, but he made a very significant choice about how he would handle it: “I will never allow another man to control or ruin my life by making me hate him.”
The moment you start retaliating or seeking revenge is the same moment you give up control of your life. You have allowed the person you’re angry at to gain control of your life because you are reacting, which is a position of weakness, as opposed to forgiving, which is a position of Christlike strength.
The Bible teaches, “Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, ‘I will take revenge; I will pay them back,’ says the Lord” (Romans 12:19 NLT).