2 Corinthians 2:5-8 “If anyone has caused grief, he has not so much grieved me as he has grieved all of you to some extent—not to put it too severely. The punishment inflicted on him by the majority is sufficient. Now instead, you ought to forgive and comfort him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. I urge you, therefore, to reaffirm your love for him.”
There must be some point in a broken relationship where it is enough. A place and a time where healing is more important than grief. A place and time to make amends, a place where we can be set free from the tyranny of past mistakes. To perceive a time as an opportunity to learn. No one is immune to hurts inflicted. They are a part of you, but not meant to torment you. If I have hurt you, I need your forgiveness. You may judge and pass on continual condemnation and that is your problem. I will grow from my mistakes. Those bound by the lack of forgiveness for others are not healed but are eaten by their own attitudes. I will keep on keeping on. I will take the lessons of forgiveness to heart, not the hurt. Ten years from now it will hardly matter, and few will remember it anyway.
Colossians 1:13-14 “For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”
I cannot change the past. It is a stone that is simply too large to move. It is the immovable object trailing along behind held by ropes to my inner well-being. It constrains my self-image. It impedes whatever progress I think I am making in all my relationships. I scratch and pull and yank and sometimes I simply try to ignore the weight constantly restricting me. I get so tired of the strain, I stop and think, “my place, my current position good enough”. But the weight continually increases until the shadow of that immense rock shades everything I do. I toil in a tethered country of struggle. The stone becomes the hallmark of the dominion in which I live. But there is a solution to the darkness, to the weight that so easily restrains my progress. A solution that does not include darkness, struggle, or immobility. The solution is forgiveness and the severing of the bonds that would impede my headway. The solution which opens to me a new kingdom. Bliss and progress are now my paths.
James 1:17-19 “Every good thing is given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow. In the exercise of His will, He gave us birth by the word of truth, so that we would be a kind of first fruits among His creatures. You know this, my beloved brothers, and sisters. Now everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger.”
You are a special gift. A gift from God. Your unique identity or personhood as created by God is simply without equal. The message of practical James sees no jump in logic from your gifted unique identity to the accompanying responsibility to be just to those around you. James is calling for a process in justice, listening carefully, restrained in our response, and measurement of judgment. He calls for due process for all accused of not living up to the image of God.
In the world in which we live, we have a responsibility not to pass judgment without due process. The right to a timely trial, to an unbiased judge and a jury of our peers, a presumption of innocence, presentation of corroborating evidence, to know the charges or accusations, to confront witnesses, legal counsel, and the right to defend yourself are all part of this due process. Justice is allowing the process to work. I cannot and will not make any judgment based on emotion, prejudice, innuendo, gossip, or without evidence. That is justice. Justice is dictated by my faith and by God.
Genesis 18:19 “For I have chosen him, so that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing righteousness and justice, so that the Lord may bring upon Abraham what He has spoken about him.”
Webster was right when he said, “Justice, sir, is the great interest of people on earth.” Without justice, there is no hope or expectation of continuance for our culture. A just society must first acknowledge a moral law higher than itself: a supreme lawgiver to whom even the most powerful are held into account. America’s founders writing the Declaration of Independence, in the very first sentence acknowledged the existence and dependence upon something greater than themselves. Our nation is founded on a supreme, objective basis of justice and righteousness. Justice is not a whim of whoever is in political power at any given election cycle. Justice is based upon the supreme lawgiver. To substitute man-made morality or even personal political ethics as a new standard is just folly. God’s perfect justice is established by His unchangeable nature. To set any other ultimate measuring stick of justice is foolishness.