Responding to Wrongs: Taking, Getting and Giving

This post was first written for LRBC in October 2012

Either on purpose or by accident, people do wrong things to others. How did you react (or want to react) the last time it happened to you? There seem to be three kinds of people in the world, who each react differently to being wronged.

The first of these could be known as ‘Takers’. These types like to take revenge. If someone cuts them off on the road, they feel like chucking a brick through their back window. Revenge seeks to inflict more punishment than what is owed. The second type could be called ‘Getters’ – they only demand a fair punishment. They simply want to get justice – nothing more, but certainly nothing less (cf. Exodus 21:24). There’s nothing wrong with wanting justice, but our Lord pointed to a better way. The last type can be described as ‘Givers’. When wronged, they forgive rather than seek revenge or demand justice. You could say they give grace to their wrongdoer – that is, they give a favour the offender can’t claim a right to: forgiveness.

Which of these three types of person do you think you are most like, deep down? Jesus tells us that we must forgive others (Matt 18:21-22). That means no retaliation and no demand for justice. Could you do this – simply forgive? Could you let go of your right to justice or the chance to get the better of your offender, and simply give grace?