To hope for justice is neither anger, nor bitterness. It is rather the opposite of bitterness, because to hope for justice is to expect a thing only God can hand down… to trust in God to send deliverance. And God always does send a deliverer: “I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt, and have heard their groaning, and I have come down to deliver them. And now come, I will send you…” (Acts 7:34)
- Job expected it. (Job 19:23-24)
- Hagar cried out for it, and God assured her that he sees her. (Gen. 16:7-16)
- Abraham sought it. (Gen 18)
- Joseph dreamt of it. (Gen 37:9)
- David complained to God for it. (1 Sam 24:15; search Complaint in Psalms)
- Proverbs 31:8 commands us to ensure it for those being crushed.
- Esther knew her purpose in it and would not be silent (4:14)
- Jeremiah wept for it and defended God as the giver of it. (Lamentation 3)
- Habakkuk questioned God for it and God answered. (Habakkuk 1)
- Micah preached it. (Entire book)
- Jesus committed himself to the one who judges righteously, and God raised Him from the dead. (1 Peter 2:23)
- The Apostles proclaimed it. (Acts 7:34)
- The Revelation saints petition for it, saying “How long…?” (Revelation 6:10)
Spiritual forgiveness does not mean temporal consequences / lawful sentencing is or should be removed. And no, not “all sins are the same in God’s eyes.” While it is true that even the smallest sin reveals we are corrupt and in need of pardon & spiritual new birth, it is also true that different sins have different consequences (even eternal ones) and various degrees of ramifications toward both the victim and the perpetrator (Romans 2:6; Revelation 20:12-13). Jesus taught this directly, as recorded in Matthew 10:15; 11:24 and 23:23. Again, spiritual / eternal forgiveness does not eliminate natural, temporal or governmental consequences for crimes done. It also does not immediately restore trust or relationship. Those things must be earned over time, and in some cases future contact or relationship should never be expected of the victim.
It is important to note that when we have been wronged or a crime was committed against us, it is healthy and right to acknowledge that ‘I have indeed been wronged’… only then can we become truly ready to forgive by letting the nature of the wrong register in our mind and emotions, instead of just glossing over it and mouthing the words “I forgive.” Then, we can commit the judgment to God because of Jesus, and so, be ready to forgive the spiritual / eternal wrong when the offender repents.
Confronting someone who has legitimately wronged us is doing the right thing; because sometimes people don’t recognize or realize they have wronged us, which means they do not know a reconciliation must take place. It should be obvious, though, when a crime or clear case of biblical sin has occurred.
We can be sure we are “ready to forgive” when—because we have committed the wrong to God who judges rightly—we feel trust for His goodness & justice overcome the hurt.
When someone does finally say “I’m sorry, or forgive me,” we can be sure we have forgiven when we desire no ruin / damnation to come to them… and when we remember we made the choice to release them from the spiritual consequences (committing the matter to God’s judgment), because of Jesus’ sacrifice for sins. HOWEVER, this does not eliminate the need for restitution, and a truly repentant person will seek to restore and make restitution however possible. (Ex. Zacchaeus)