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Forgiveness and Justice

If someone commits a crime against my person or property, should I forgive and not involve the police?

Forgive and Forget?

Forgiveness releases the offender from the personal and emotional offence against the individual. However, if a crime has been committed, the offender has broken the law of the land and forgiveness does not supersede the law of the state.

The Bible reveals that God is a God of justice. He commands us to forgive and by forgiving we release the burden of carrying the anger of the offence, and at the same time we give the responsibility of prosecuting ultimate justice to Him.

The Bible explains that His justice is revealed in two ways: first through the law of the land, second through the final judgement. We must submit to both these expressions of justice.

Duty of Care

We must also understand that we owe a duty of care to other innocent people. If we do not allow the law of the land to proceed as Romans 13 suggests, we are allowing the offender to defy the law and this may encourage them to continue in a life of crime, which ultimately will create a host of other victims.

Forgiveness is good for us, because the burden of unforgiveness wears us out, but to proceed with justice and fulfil the law of the land is also just and fair. We should proceed with this route in the spirit of justice, not because of a personal vendetta or motivated by hate. Therefore we can both forgive and proceed with legal justice.

Biblical Context

‘Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. For he is God's servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God's servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.’ Rom. 13:1-4.

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