Most Bible teaching focuses on what you have done wrong and what Jesus did to help you have a new beginning and make it right. But, what do you do when you are not the one who has sinned, but are the one who has been sinned against?
For starters, we need to deal with reality and accept when we are feeling defeated and down. Proverbs 14:10 [ESV] says, “The heart knows its own bitterness, and no stranger shares its joy.” When we are sinned against and hurt, the response of our sinful flesh is to choose bitterness. Bitterness will overtake your entire life, continually pushing out your joy and the ability of others to enjoy life with you. How do you know you are bitter? Signs like reliving and retelling your suffering story is a clue.
One strong temptation when we have been sinned against is to return evil for evil, seeking vengeance rather than trusting the Lord to avenge. Proverbs 23:17 [ESV] warns, “Let not your heart envy sinners, but continue in the fear of the Lord all the day.” When someone sins against you, the key it to respond to God and not to them.
How do you know that you have worked through a forgiveness process? Jesus taught us to not only forgive others, but also bless even enemies. Proverbs 24:17 [ESV] says, “Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and let not your heart be glad when he stumbles…” You have sinned and God has sought good for you, and when you seek good for someone who has sinned against you, you are acting godly.
What forgiveness is not:
- Forgiveness is often a private matter between only you and God that does not involve the other person.
- Forgiveness is both a one-time event and an ongoing process. Jesus said to forgive seventy times seven (Matthew 18:21-22)
- Forgiveness is not enabling crime, foolishness, irresponsibility, or sin. You can call the cops, not feel bad for refusing to fund their folly or take on their responsibilities, thereby enabling them to be irresponsible.
- Forgiveness is not trust or reconciliation. Forgiveness is free in an instant. Trust is earned, and reconciliation is trust earned over time.
- Your forgiveness is not God’s forgiveness. If the person does not turn from sin and trust in Jesus Christ, their eternity will be one of unforgiveness.
- Responding to Jesus instead of the hurt. Forgiven people should forgive people.
- Transferring the burden to God so you don’t keep carrying it.
- Stopping trying to control people and outcomes and let things unfold according to God’s plan.
- Letting go of both the sin and the stress so that you can heal spiritually, emotionally, and physically and start to heal from the hurt.
Who has sinned against you? How are you responding?