Which is more important, forgiveness or justice? It depends on who you are. If you’re the offended, justice is more important. If you’re the offender, forgiveness is more important. Whether you’re looking for forgiveness or justice, you need to understand that getting it will also be problematic for you. Here’s what I mean…
Forgiveness is important, because it’s the only thing that can truly release the offended from the on-going sting of the offense. The offense is history and can never be reversed, so forgiveness frees the offended from trying to collect on a debt that can never be fully paid back.
But forgiveness is problematic, because it’s not fair. Though the offender is guilty and does not deserve to be forgiven, forgiveness lets the offender off the hook leaving the offended to pick up the tab.
Justice is important, because it is inherent to how the universe works. Like the simple law of physics that states that every action is met by an equal and opposite reaction, every offense demands some sort of correction. Without justice there is no accountability; only chaos and anarchy.
But justice is problematic, because it doesn’t right the wrong. Even when the offender is punished, it doesn’t change the offense or remove the wounds of the offense. Justice does not bring satisfaction. It only reveals that nothing can make the offense right.
So which one should you pursue?
Since both are are important, you need to pursue both. Believe it or not, it is possible. You can forgive a person without doing away with the consequences (justice) of their actions, and you can pursue justice without ignoring the need to turn from vengeance and forgive the person. Just know that forgiveness will feel costly and justice will feel incomplete.
Let’s take this to another level…
Though they seem opposed to one another, forgiveness and justice really can go together. We know this, because the crucifixion of Jesus brought the two together. (2 Cor. 5:21) At the cross, sin was punished (justice) and sinners were set free (forgiveness.)
This is good news for both the offended and the offender.
Leave a comment and tell us which you think is most important…justice or forgiveness. Let us know why.
Copyright © 2014 Bret Legg