Besides death and taxes, there’s one other certainty: human hearts aren’t prone towards mercy, at least not towards others. We’re greedy for personal justice from the moment we comprehend that something’s unfair. She has more than me. He has something better than me. She got a bigger piece than me. He received more time than me.
Our avarice for justice is relentless and the stakes only grow as we get older.
He cheated and took from me.
She lied to get ahead of me.
He shortchanged me.
She was given special treatment over me.
With this burning desire to get justice for ourselves, how do we even begin to execute the things Jesus says, like, “if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well”? (Matthew 5:40). How do we turn the other cheek and walk the extra mile when we believe—down to our core—that we’re justified in seeking what’s ours?
How do we give up our right to seek justice? Where do we find the strength to do something like that?
Jesus didn’t just tell us what we should do as people of God’s kingdom. He also showed us how.
Peter came to Jesus with just the same question we bring to Jesus when we’re tired of offering grace: “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”
Nope. Not seven times, Peter, you don’t yet understand what the God’s kingdom is really like.
“Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold was brought to him. Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.
“At this the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.
“But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded.
“His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’ “But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened. “Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ | Matthew 18:25-33
How do we give up our right to seek justice? We remember that our God gave up his right to exact justice against us by sacrificing himself. He gave us grace. He offered us mercy and we can become the kind of people who give grace instead of withholding forgiveness.
Maybe that little voice that demands and declares, “That’s just not fair,” never goes away for. Agree with it and reply in response: “It’s not fair—and praise God that He treated me ‘unfairly.’” Let’s become the kind of people who let go of justice and take hold of transformational sacrifice instead.