After teaching us about the Biblical processes involved with those who sin, Jesus teaches us that the normal process of confrontation should always end with forgiveness. Peter then asks Jesus, “how many times? Should I forgive him seven times?” Jesus says, “No, Peter, 70 times 7 times.” Actually, Jesus was saying that forgiveness is always the first step in restoration of a relationship. Forgiveness doesn’t always result in the restoration of the relationship as it existed before the offense, but it should always end with the offended desiring and attempting to make the situation work out for the best for the offender.

Instead of having the best interest of those who offend us foremost in mind, we often seek revenge. One writer said that this is like “eating rat poison and hoping that the rat will die.” It only hurts yourself and interferes with God’s work in the lives of others. The scriptures teach us that “vengeance” belongs to God. God will always bring justice in the end. We should let him be the judge.

I found this short story in my illustration data base. I think it says it all: Mark Gagnon worked as a clerk in a store owned by James Brazeau. Brazeau had promised to bring Gagnon a New England Patriots hat when he returned from the football game. Brazeau arrived as promised, hat in hand, only to discover Gagnon had stolen $4,382 worth of lottery tickets from the store. Gagnon was prosecuted, and just before he was sentenced, his former boss, Brazeau, walked over to the defendant’s table and presented Gagnon with a paper bag. He said, “I want this to be a learning experience for you.” The judge made the hat part of the sentence, ordering Gagnon to wear the hat every time he appeared in public for the next two years.

“A voice from the cloud said, this is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him. (Matthew 17:5)