When I first started practicing law, I was outside the courthouse one day with a lawyer I was doing some work for. He was telling me about a civil case he had been working on and a discussion he had with his client. The client wanted to pursue litigation and take it to trial because he wanted “justice.” The lawyer told him, rather cynically, that the courtroom was the last place that justice would happen. His point was an attempt to get the client to consider settlement.
I had many clients following that come into my office and want to sue someone or pursue something on principle. I would explain, time and again, that the only person that ends up happy where disputes are fueled by subjective principles are lawyers. Once we get months and dollars into the process, everyone except the attorneys begin to lose interest and passion for once was an unflappable conviction.
I wrote the other day about an action of stepping into forgiveness. The action of forgiveness produces an emotion more than an emotion produces forgiveness. Our emotions will tend to lie to us if we let them and if we submit to the emotions we’ll have a hard time letting go of the offense. We’ll make decisions based in hurt and from anger instead of logical moves to move forward.
Forgiveness is the release of the need for justice. It isn’t releasing the truth of justice, it’s simply not holding control of the justice. It’s allowing the consequences of another person’s actions to be determined by someone or something other than the one that’s hurt. More accurately, forgiveness is allowing God to determine justice without needing to help Him.
If you know Jesus, you know mercy. He didn’t meet you with justice, but mercy. It doesn’t mean that you weren’t guilty; it means that He isn’t going to hold it against you. It means you are forgiven. “Forgive us as we forgive others” is the way He taught us to pray. Forgiveness flows through; we don’t have to be the Source of forgiveness, but we are to be distributors.
The counsel I gave those clients seeking to pursue legal matters on principle didn’t mean that the legal system wasn’t the right place to resolve disputes. It simply meant that the rationale and emotions that motivate litigation need to be grounded in something other than the passion of principle. Even a favorable verdict doesn’t bring internal healing. Only heart level forgiveness can do that.