This morning a had a great conversation about the tragedy in Connecticut yesterday. I have been trying to think what to write, but until this morning did not know how to word it.
The conversation started with a great question about forgiveness and hate. The person said “I know that as Christians we are told to forgive people, but how can we be expected to forgive someone that does something like this? All I have is hate toward them.”
I think many of us have asked this question or a similar one. Maybe all you feel is hate toward the killer. Maybe you just don’t understand why God would allow this to happen. You may even be struggling with how God forgives.
Before we can answer these questions though we need to clarify a few things. First, we need to understand the difference between hate and a want for justice. A strong desire for someone to pay for what they did isn’t bad. It’s the same thing God feels toward sin. When a law is broken there is this feeling that justice must be done.
In this case the whole country knows that a horrible crime has been committed and is trying to process these feelings of justice. We have a want for the person to pay. However in this case we won’t be able to see that justice carries out because he killed himself. So where does that leave us?
It leads us to Romans 12:9 where we read that God is good and He will give the right and deserved punishment to those who deserve it.
Secondly, we need to understand forgiveness. Forgiveness has a couple stages. For example if someone wrongs me I can forgive them because I know that God forgave me. This however does not mean that the person that wronged me gets off without justice. That only occurs when the person who wronged me repents and confesses their sin and verbally asks for forgiveness. Then I have the opportunity to show mercy and forgive. (This is played out a number if different ways depending on the wrong committed.)
There are two stages of forgiveness. The first only requires my action the second requires theirs.
I believe we see this in Micah 6:8 where we read:
He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
When we forgive we must be sure to be just in our actions but do so in love and humility before the Lord.
So what about this case in particular? In this case we don’t get the option to forgive. The killer took that away from us when he killed himself. However we can humble and be sure that God is good and sin is dealt with. We want to see justice but have to be satisfied that God is the judge and will judge rightly.
For now let us pray for those in pain. Let us pray that He will comfort them only as he knows how.