“Vengeance is mine, and recompense,
for the time when their foot shall slip;
because the day of their calamity is at hand,
their doom comes swiftly.”
— DEUTERONOMY 32:35c-f (NRSV)
The co-commitment that necessarily runs with the capacity to leave our resentment behind is a precondition that God will take care of justice – in faith we must commend all our bitterness to God.
In allowing God to take care of the business of justice, we must trust enough as a co-commitment to let go – visibly, manifestly, demonstrably – as a means of actually trusting. We can afford to look at our side of the equation; what we could have done better.
In leaving the justice to God, we attribute to God what is God’s, and we attribute to ourselves what is for ourselves, alone. We must do our work; that which we are responsible for. Nobody else can do it for us.
The Practicalities of Leaving Justice to God
There is no silver bullet or magic recipe for executing the grace needed to leave matters of justice to God.
Our opportunity is to simply practice it – to do it.
That is the work that God has given us, as we journey with the Spirit in our granting of grace to those who might – in our eyes – not deserve it. We do not deserve it. Yet it was poured out for us at Calvary. So we should, like Jesus, pour it out.
It just has to be done. We do ourselves no favours, not even to mention them who are probably unaware of the potency of our grudges, by withholding the grace they so freely deserve if we deserve it.
God is perfectly equipped to judge. We are not. We are fitted so keenly with our human partiality. God is fitted, by his nature, for the acquittal of absolute truth.
God’s Justice Is Often Harsher Than We’d Execute
That is my direct experience. As we follow through in forgiving the other party, we soon find God working at restoring justice we may have longed for. It may get to such an extent that we witness a harsher level of justice as it is meted out to them, who may have their own bitterness to deal with. Having forgiven someone, we can come to experience a genuine empathy for them that is real compassion – as if we weren’t involved.
God’s justice – as it comes in the shape of the consequences for sin – is retributive, impartial, and final. We may well ultimately pray that God relent. And that would be a godly and God-pleasing prayer.
The reason we can forgive is God’s justice comes. By withholding our forgiveness we show we don’t trust God. Forgiving another’s transgression against us is about taking God at his Word. “Vengeance is mine,” says the Lord. God’s justice is as perfect as it is timely. Our lot is to trust God.
© 2013 S. J. Wickham.