Imagine if you overheard a conversation where one of those speaking was expressing how they had been severely wronged by another. Your heart might go out to them because of the harshness in which they had been treated, or because of the loss they had suffered. What if what you heard next was a bitter tirade expressing in graphic detail all the things they would do to that person if they ever crossed paths with them again? Would you be surprised, or could you easily identify with how they were feeling? Perhaps you would think of your own past when you had wronged another. Would you want to take on the measurement of wrath they might be wishing upon you?
As I was thinking about this recently, there was a scripture that kept coming to mind:
“And He was saying to them, “Take care what you listen to. By your standard of measure it will be measured to you; and more will be given you besides.” Mark 4:24 NASB
When I went back to read the scripture, it was hard to ignore the context in which it was written, which didn’t necessarily appear about judgement but rather about generosity, so I began to ponder over it and to dig more.
While it is true, this verse is about generosity, based on other scriptures I had read I believe it would not be dishonest to say I could take that same verse and apply it to judgement as well, with the thought being this one:
Take care what comes out of your mouth. By your standard of judgement, you will be judged, and more so.
That puts a whole new light on forgiveness, doesn’t it? Just imagining the measurement of unforgiveness and judgement in my heart I wish towards others is the same measurement that I would receive unforgiveness and judgement from Christ, and more besides, is frightening!
Here’s how Matthew puts it in chapter six, verses 14-15:
‘For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions. ‘
Let’s look at it from another angle. Why do you think God says vengeance is His? Because He knew that all His vengeance, wrath, and judgement fell on Christ when He was crucified. That means that unforgiveness is a fist in the face of God, and puts the unforgiver squarely into His hands, where all His wrath and judgement will rather fall directly on them instead.
It is heart breaking to think Christ had to receive the wrath of Father God poured out on Him for all my sins, and for what I should rightly have been judged for, but I am forever grateful. How much more I would rather hear Him say “You are forgiven”, rather than to see vengeance taken out on the person I hated, and to then have judgement fall on me instead. Better to leave judgement in the hands of God, and better to allow Him to take vengeance on my behalf.
Food for thought:
“How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know Him who said, ” vengeance is mine, I will repay.” And again, ” the Lord will judge his people.” It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” Hebrews 10:29-31
“Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” Ephesians 4:29-32